What is Smart is Not Always What is Right
Parashat Va'Era

Dena Weiss

Over the course of the ten plagues, the Torah repeatedly informs us about the condition of Pharaoh’s heart, when it is reinforced or strengthened, and when it is hardened.  The text also narrates how Pharaoh’s heart changes, and who is responsible for that change.  Sometimes Pharaoh is credited with toughening himself, but sometimes the text attributes this strengthening and hardening to God. God’s taking responsibility in this way inspires the major commentaries to ask how God could have manipulated Pharaoh in this way.  Isn’t He depriving Pharaoh of his free will by making him stubborn?  And, if the reason why Pharaoh doesn’t free his Jewish slaves is that God has deprived him of his ability to emancipate Benei Yisrael, how is it fair for God to punish Pharaoh for not letting them go?

What is Smart is Not Always What is Right
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