Rabbi David Paskin
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From Rabbi David
Children can be stubborn. In fact, we all can be. We believe what we believe, want what we want, know what we know and we will not be moved.
For our children, this stubbornness comes from a lack of social awareness - something we work on helping your children grow in every day. For us adults - it often comes because it is easier to just stick with what we believe, what we want and what we know. Giving in is seen as a sign of weakness.
In this week's parsha, Pharaoh puts on a dramatic display of his own stubbornness, continually refusing to allow the Israelites to leave and worship their God. What's interesting though is that the Torah describes how God hardens Pharaoh's heart. It is God who makes Pharaoh dig his heals in.
One of the commentaries teaches us that God did this to ensure that Pharaoh didn't lose his free will. You see, under the weight of the plagues, Pharaoh would have quickly crumbled and let the Israelites go but God knew that this wasn't what Pharaoh truly wanted. Were Pharaoh to let them go it would only be to stop the plagues - not as a reflection of what he wanted deep down. So God had to make Pharaoh stubborn to allow him to fully express his free will.
For Pharaoh, giving in would have been a sign of weakness because he would not have actually gotten over his stubbornness, but rather pushed it aside in the face of overwhelming pressure and fear. Perhaps, then, this parsha can teach us that real strength is in being flexible and open enough to admit that we might be wrong, we might not know it all and it's okay to be moved.