PHARAOH SYNDROME by Raphael ben Levi
“Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh, but God had made Pharaoh hard-hearted and he did not let the People of Israel leave his land.” (Ex.11:10) When reading the text, one cannot help but notice the curious phrase that God ‘made Pharaoh hard-hearted.’ How he could be held accountable if it was God who hardened his heart?
According to Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai – student of Rabbi Akiva, “When God warns a person on three occasions and he does not return from his evil ways, He closes the door of repentance.” The number three is taken symbolically to represent Divine completeness. In other words, there comes a point in everyone’s life when the door of opportunity closes. Despite this, as numerous examples demonstrate, there remains hope for every person until the last page has been turned, for God is full of grace and mercy who “…desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1Tim. 2:4)
Pharaoh’s exceedingly stubborn heart, ruthless pride and evil inclinations slammed shut the door of opportunity sooner rather than later. Let’s keep our hearts tender and not fall into a ‘Pharaoh Syndrome,’ someone who chooses to block the working of God in their lives.
Now, as we inch closer to Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) may the God of second chances who desires to fill our lives with new beginnings – one engraved with His fingerprints permeating every page of our lives – incline His ear and set our feet upon a solid rock: “From the end of the earth I call to You, when my heart is overwhelmed and weak; lead me to the rock that is higher than I [a rock that is too high to reach without Your help].” (Ps.61:2)