Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
Pharaoh - The Classic Villain
Published: Tuesday, January 21, 2020 10:26:10 PM
Number of views: 1331

Pharaoh seems to be one of the main characters in the Torah. There is a Pharaoh in Avraham’s time, then there’s the Pharaoh in Yosef’s time and of course, the Pharaoh in Moshe’s time. Why does the Torah give so much prominent attention to the ancient Pharaohs of Egypt? We know the Torah is G‑d’s GPS (G‑d’s Personal System) for the here and now.

Moshe says to Pharaoh in the name of G‑d, “For if you refuse to send forth My People, I will bring a plague of locusts in your borders.” (Shemot 10:4) The fact that G‑d warned Pharaoh that he would be punished for not obeying Moshe’s demand to let Israel go, means that the door to Tshuva was still opened to him. Even though G‑d had made Pharaoh stubborn and obstinate, that just meant that it was difficult for him to do Tshuva. Had Pharaoh summoned his inner spiritual strength to listen to his conscience, he still could have let Israel go and spared himself and Egypt the devastation that ruined his country.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe states that we must learn 2 profound lessons from Pharaoh’s behavior. That is why the Torah devotes so many verses to Pharaoh. The first lesson that we must learn is that no matter how estranged we may feel from G‑d, even if it seems that G‑d has shut the door on us, nothing can resist our sincere efforts to return to Him. The apparent estrangement from G‑d is only a test to inspire us to summon a deeper, more powerful and genuine resolve to do Tshuva.

The second lesson that we must learn from Pharaoh is that no matter how far a person may have strayed and rebelled against G‑d, we must never give up on that person. With true understanding and friendship, we can encourage the sinner to change his evil ways. With G‑d’s help he will return to his true inner self – his G‑dly Soul!

This is the true meaning of Tshuva. As the Beatles famously sang “Get Back To Where You Once Belonged.”

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