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The Crown of Halacha

V’aireh 5777 – For the Sake of Denial

This entry is part 2 of 9 in the series Shemos

V’aireh 5777 – For the Sake of Denial


Moshe and Aaron did as Hashem commanded, and he (Aaron) raised the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile before the eyes of Pharaoh and before the eyes of his servants, and all the water in the Nile turned to blood.


And all the fish in the Nile died and the Nile became putrid; the Egyptians could not drink from the Nile and there was blood throughout the entire land of Egypt.


And the necromancers of Egypt did likewise with their secret rites, and Pharaoh’s heart was steadfast, and he did not heed them, as the Lord had spoken. (Shemos 7:20-22)


Rashi: and Pharaoh’s heart was steadfast: saying, “You are doing this through sorcery. ‘You are bringing straw to Aphraim,’ a city that is full of straw. So too you bring magic to Egypt, which is [already] full of magic.” – from Shmos Rabbah 9:11, Men. 85a]


Pharaoh’s Strange Behavior

Does creating even more blood and frogs make Pharaoh “right?” Weren’t the Egyptians suffering enough without more trouble from their own king?  One would expect that Pharoah would try to save whatever little water that could be found! Frogs are hopping on every square inch of land, why bring in more? We can explain Pharoah’s behavior with a moshal:


What Does Hurting Oneself Prove?

One day two foolish men got into a bitter argument and neither one would listen to logic. The bigger of the two decided a show of force would change the smaller one’s mind so he picked him up with one hand and threw him hard against a wall. The smaller man slowly got to his feet, looked the stronger one in the eye and said, “You think might makes right? Well, watch this!” He backed away from the wall, then turned and charged full speed into it, knocking himself out. He finally rose again, barely able to stand and said to the other man, “Now who’s right!”


The Pharaoh Complex

Pharaoh’s behavior during the ten plagues is like the smaller man’s in the story. We see this clearly with the first two plagues. Pharaoh does not listen to reason so Hashem uses force by turning water into blood. But rather than conceding to Hashem, Pharaoh refuses to be intimidated. He sends his magicians to buy water and demonstrates that he can also turn it into blood. Next, comes the plague of frogs and again Pharaoh scoffs at Moshe Rabbeinu. “You think you’re special–watch this!” He then commands his magicians to make frogs from dirt.

We see from the start that Pharaoh is willing to hurt himself and his people rather than accept Hashem as the Ultimate Ruler. Pharaoh is running full speed into a brick wall in order to prove he is the one in control, not Hashem. Had Pharaoh immediately acknowledged the truth he could have spared his entire nation pain, suffering, and death. He preferred to drown in his own denial.

Truth is the Refuah Against Denial

How many of us are willing to hurt ourselves rather than admit we may be wrong?  How often have we caused ourselves pain by holding on to our own point of view, compounding it with one cover up after another?

The ultimate act of denial is when we actually make our situation worse in order to maintain our position. The sad result is that pain and cover-ups become a way of life. The quickest way out of the downward spiral of denial is to embrace the truce. This is the ultimate act of freedom!

Series Navigation<< Shemos 5777 – Ask But Don’t QuestionBO 5777 – Torah Torah Torah! >>
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