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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 28, 2005 / 19 Nissan, 5765

Pharaoh: Should a person be punished for doing something when he had no choice?

By Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski


“But I shall harden Pharaoh’s heart and I shall multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.”

  —   Exodus 7:3


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Virtually all the commentaries struggle with this question: If G-d hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he would not yield after each punishment, what justification was there for further punishment? Can a person be punished for doing something when he had no choice? It may be chutzpah, but I would like to suggest an answer which was not available to the commentaries.



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First, G-d did not harden Pharaoh’s heart for the first five plagues. In these the Torah says, "Pharaoh’s heart was hardened." It was not until the sixth plague that G-d hardened Pharaoh’s heart.


Forty years of working with alcoholics enabled me to understand Pharaoh’s obstinacy. The alcoholic can suffer blow after blow, each time swearing off drinking: "I will never touch another drop as long as I live!" Invariably, he resumes drinking soon afterward.


I recall one man whose drinking resulted in severe pancreatitis, which caused such horrific pain that it was not relieved even by morphine. He cried bitterly, "If you can only get me over this pain, Doc, I swear I will never, never even look at alcohol."


Three weeks after being released from the hospital, he was drunk.


Alcoholics who go through the ordeal of a liver transplant may drink at their first visit outside of the hospital.


Pharaoh acted like a typical alcoholic. When he felt the distress of a plague, he pleaded with Moses, promising to send out the Israelites. No sooner was the plague removed, than he retracted.


To me, this behavior is not at all unusual. But what happened with the sixth plague? It appears that if G-d had not hardened Pharaoh’s heart, he would have yielded. In order to explain this, you must bear with me while I describe a case.


Jim was a very bright, resourceful young man, who got a job with a major construction firm. He was so efficient that he received promotion after promotion, eventually becoming second in command to the CEO at an unprecedented young age.


Jim drank excessively, and his wife’s appeals fell on deaf ears. When she told him that she could no longer tolerate it, he said that she was free to leave. She took their three young daughters and left.


Jim continued to work, but eventually the drinking impaired his performance. When his peers pointed this out to him, he said, "They’re just jealous of my position."


One day the CEO fired him.


Jim would sit in the tavern, expecting that any moment a head-hunter would recruit him to be the CEO of a Fortune-500 firm. He drank away all his savings, then drank away his home, then drank away his car and lived on welfare.


At age 49, Jim admitted himself to my hospital. He was down, yet the next day he signed himself out of the hospital against medical advice.


Two years later, Jim was back.


"I know you’re mad at me, Doc," he said, "for walking out on you last time."


I said, "Jim, you walked out on yourself, not on me."


Jim nodded. "I’ll do anything you say."


I asked Jim, "What makes you more ready now than two years ago?"


Jim responded, "You know what you get for selling your blood? Sixteen beers."


"When you sell for blood for beer, that is hitting rock-bottom," I said.


Jim shook his head. "No, Doc," he said. "I’ve been doing that for a year."


"Then what brought you in today rather than a year ago?" I asked.


Jim said, "When I was with the firm, I practically ran the United Way drive myself. This past week I’ve been panhandling quarters on Liberty Avenue. I can’t live with that."


Every alcoholic has his individually unique "rock-bottom" which is the point at which he recovers. Jim’s loss of his family, his home and his car; sleeping in doorways; and even selling his blood for alcohol were not his rock-bottom. Begging quarters was.


Here is the crucial point to understand. If, due to pressure, the alcoholic stops drinking before he has reached his particular rock-bottom, he generally relapses.


Sustained recovery occurs only if the person has reached what was for him rockbottom.


My purpose in this commentary is not to just cite explanations of the Torah, but rather to derive teachings that we can apply in our own lives.


We all have a bit of the alcoholic’s tendencies within us. We resolve that we will not repeat a wrong act, and after a period of time elapses, we do it again. Have you never said, "I will never again allow myseIf to lose my temper like that?" And what happened?


If instead of simply making a promise not to lose control of our temper, we did some serious, persistent study of the mussar (ethical) works on rage, until we felt so crushed by the evil of rage that this episode constituted a "rock-bottom," we could make the necessary character transformation so that we would not subsequently relapse.


We should not need to wait for a tragic, destructive "rock-bottom" to bring us to our senses.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes uplifting articles. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D. is a psychiatrist and ordained rabbi. He is the founder of the Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Pittsburgh, a leading center for addiction treatment. An Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, he is a prolific author, with some 30 books to his credit.

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