Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Eight Chapters

Chapter Eight (Part 8)

The fact that G-d had “fortified Pharaoh’s heart” and thus gave him no choice but to force us to stay in Egypt is definitely puzzling. But as we’ll see, it will actually enhance our understanding of free will.

Rambam agrees that G-d had in fact tampered with Pharaoh’s free will, but he maintains that G-d had every good reason to, since it was all part of His overarching system of higher justice. For you see, Pharaoh sinned in many ways aside from enslaving us. As Rambam reminds us, Pharaoh oppressed us early on; as it’s said “he said to his people, Behold, the Children of Israel are more numerous and mighty than we. Come; let us deal cunningly (i.e., cruelly and maliciously) with them!” (Exodus 1:9-10). And so they committed all sorts of crimes and inhumane acts against our people, “freely … rather than by compulsion” Rambam underscores.

“So G-d punished them for that” Rambam asserts, “by preventing them from doing teshuvah”. For as Rambam put it elsewhere, G-d ordained that anyone who’d committed a horrendous sin or a great number of sins, as Pharaoh did, is punished by being prevented from doing teshuvah (Hilchot Teshuvah 6:3).

And so Pharaoh and his people could no longer realize the extent of their cruelties; no longer regret them; no longer decide not to follow through on them ever. So their free will was indeed taken away from him to that extent. Why? Because they’d gotten themselves so deeply mired in sin and cruelty that they’d lost their humanity; hence their free choice, which is so much of what defines our humanity, was rescinded in all fairness.

That’s the phenomenon that G-d was following through on when He “fortified Pharaoh’s heart“. G-d’s overarching justice demanded that reaction to such evil individuals, even though it undid their free will. The underlying point is that even though free will is fundamental to the human condition, it’s still and all out-ranked by other factors.

Now, there’s something to be said about this little-known phenomenon that hits very close to home and should stun anyone in search of spiritual excellence. It’s the whole idea that there are times when our lapses get to be so numerous and so “normal” for us that we can be prevented from getting a handle on them and doing teshuvah! Hence the lesson is that it’s vitally important for us to be aware of our behavior patterns and to stop any destructive ones as soon as possible.


Text Copyright © 2007 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org


 

ARTICLES ON BESHALACH AND TU BESHVAT:

View Complete List

No Need to Sell Yourself
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5756

Split-Sea Soup
Rabbi Label Lam - 5762

The Splitting Of The Sea and the Concept of Hidur Mitzvah
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5773

> A Seamless Integration On A Higher Plane
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5773

Well-Bread Jews
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5761

Enjoy the Ride
Rabbi Label Lam - 5769

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Tu BeShevat
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5772

The Gateway to Freedom
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5768

Appreciation in Times of Pain
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5770

ArtScroll

Freight and Handling
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5764

Back-Seat Driver
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5762

Complaining About The Quality Of The Miracle
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5766

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

As the Season Turns
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767

Everyday Miracles
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5758

Anatomy of a Sin
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5768

Mon or Man?
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5766



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information