Some things never change

In the recent dark comedy “Don’t Look Up”, the political leadership flatly refuses to believe the scientific evidence about the killer comet approaching the Earth and threatening to wipe out the life on the planet as we know it. Even seeing the comet in the sky is not enough for them, as they immediately start the denial movement, deftly named “Don’t Look Up.”

The Pharaoh in this week’s Torah portion is akin to the characters depicted in the film. The opening verse states, “For I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his courtiers, so that I may display these My signs among them…”. (Exodus 10:1).

Sforno gives a brilliant insight into the nature of this action.

“He had stiffened Pharaoh’s heart so that ordinary rules of psychology could no longer be applied to this man. The purpose was to enable G’d to demonstrate more miracles so that maybe some Egyptians would be moved by what they experienced to become penitents.”

Consequently, according to Sforno, this experience in the future would provide a ground for humankind to be convinced that God loved His creatures since He was very patient with them, giving them opportunities to mend their ways.

What an idealist Sforno was.

About the Author
Nelly Shulman is a journalist and writer currently based in Berlin. She is an author of four popular historical novels in the Russian language. She is working on the fifth novel in this series and on her first English-language novel, a historical thriller set during the Siege of Leningrad. She a Hawthornden Fellow and an alumna of the Nachum Goldmann Fellowship.
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