Rationalize or Rational Eyes
"He harnessed his chariot...He took six hundred elite chariots and all the chariots of Egypt, with officers on them all. Hashem strengthened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt and he pursued the Children of Israel" (Exodus/Shemos 14:6)
"It was told to the king of Egypt that the people had fled and the heart of Pharaoh and his servants became TRANSFORMED and they said, "What is this that we have done that we have sent away Israel from serving us?" (Exodus 14:5)
The Cambridge Dictionary provides the definition of the word: TRANSFORMED as to completely change one's character so that the person is either diminished or improved.
Rashi comments that upon hearing that Israel would not return, the ATTITUDE of Pharaoh became TRANSFORMED and he regretted having freed the Jews - surprisingly forgetting the plagues, the devastation of his land and the death of his own firstborn!
Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky offers a brilliant insight! He says that this passage teaches an important lesson in human nature. When a person's own interest are involved and his desires aroused, he can RATIONALIZE everything in his favor! Similarly, later in this chapter, after seeing that G-d had split the Sea, Pharaoh did not hesitate to plunge in, RATIONALIZING that the east wind and not G-d had caused the Sea to split!
What do we call someone who lives a life of chaos...and he not only ignores the damage he is causing everyone around him...but who has all the answers and is constantly rationalizing that it's everyone around him who is causing chaos?!
What do we call someone who constantly justifies and defends his destructive behaviors, who never takes accountability, or is unable to accept and admit that he made a mistake?!
The Big Book page 82 teaches that "The addict is like a tornado, roaring his way throughout the lives of others. Hearts are broken. Sweet relationships are dead. Selfish and inconsiderate habits have kept the home in turmoil. He is like the farmer who came up out of his tornado cellar to find his home ruined. To his wife, he remarked, 'Don't see anything the matter here, ma. Ain't it grand that the wind stopped blowin'?'"
Let's take a deeper look at Pharaoh's thoughts and feelings and behaviors during all of the Ten Plagues. I believe we can see a very revealing pattern emerge. And quite frankly, it is a pattern that exists in every single man and woman with compulsive and addictive behaviors.
To us, when we read about each powerfully destructive plague, it seems impossible that Pharaoh would not let the Jews go! And if you look carefully, we will notice that in fact, Pharaoh does give in to Moshe and even decides to let the Jews in some fashion go. As the story goes, G-d withdraws each plague and Pharaoh restores his self-will and refuses to let the Jews go.
How could this be possible in the face of the overwhelming and unexplainable devastation of each plague? If we look at each plague on its own, we will see that while the Egyptians and the country were being destroyed, the plagues DID NOT AFFECT PHARAOH himself! He never directly suffered from the blood or lice or frogs or hail. As a result, the ego-centric Pharaoh was able to RATIONALIZE that "it's not so bad after all!" And would say to himself, "all I need to do is to weather the storm, it will pass and I can go back to being the same SOB as I was before. (By the way, does this sound familiar to any of our readers?!)
If you happen to be thinking that the tenth plague was the one that broke Pharaoh and he finally surrendered to G-d - the commentators point out that even though Pharaoh may have been saddened by the death of his own firstborn...guess what he soon realized that he too was a first born and he did not die!! And it wasn't long before he forgot about the death of his son and RATIONALIZED that since this so-called G-d of the Jews didn't kill him, then Pharaoh was a "Higher Power" than the G-d Almighty!!
Pharaoh restored his obstinance and arrogance and within three days, he was harnessing his own chariot and commanding 600 of his elite officers to charge after the Children of Israel. Well, we all know the rest of the story!
The only question that remains is "How much are we like Pharaoh?!" How much damage and heartbreak can we cause to people around us to finally say like Pharaoh in Shir HaShirim...
מי כמכה באלם יה - מי כמכה נאדר בקדש
The 12 Step Program has brought Recovery and Sobriety to literally millions of addicts since 1939. Isn't it time that we commit to learning this simple program of ACTION - as it is called. By doing so, we can break free of our personal bondage to our disease!
By learning the Program and with G-d's help, we can clear our head of our Pharaoh-centered character defects and finally bring into alignment our positive thoughts with positive actions!