January 22nd, 2020

One of the great mysteries of the Exodus story is the phenomenon of Pharaoh’s hardened heart. Even as his country was collapsing under the strain of devastating plague after devastating plague, Pharaoh continued to resist any attempt by Moses to change his mind, and let the nation be freed from slavery.

How was he able to withstand this enormous pressure? The narrative in Va’era seems to indicate that his incredible willpower was divinely assisted, which only exacerbates the problem. Why would God have enabled Pharaoh to resist the reasonable solution of allowing the Israelites to be freed from their slave status?

Rabbi Dunner presents Abarbanel’s commentary, which includes a well-argued refutation of Maimonides’ classic response, as well as three solutions of his own.

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