Pharaoh is punished for not releasing the Hebrew slaves. But God himself prevents him from doing so. Does it trouble you that God hardens Pharaoh’s heart so that even if Pharaoh wanted to do God’s will or to repent for his sins in oppressing the Hebrews, he could not? That doesn’t seem fair does it? Wait. Forget about the enslavement, you want God to be fair to Pharaoh even after Pharaoh’s death decree on the babies? The rabbis try to explain that forgiveness is a gift and that someone could be so evil that the inability to obtain forgiveness is part of the punishment. How bad does someone need to be to have their free choice and ability to repent taken away from them? How many opportunities to do good, to be better and to seek forgiveness must the sinner miss to warrant that severity of punishment? Pharaoh apparently had this opportunity 5 times (with each of the first 5 plagues) before he was deemed hopeless and rendered helpless. Even then, the rabbis tell us that Pharaoh was still only punished for the sins committed BEFORE his free will was taken away. Fair is fair. Right?
Exercise your free will and come to our Shabbat Torah Study at Adat Shalom. 10:00 a.m. Rabbi Rachel Shere teaches us.