So now, Pharoah, alone and abandoned, runs through the darkened streets of Egypt trying to find Moses and Aaron, not only to grant them permission to leave, but also asking for their blessing. Having fallen as low as he possibly could, he doesn’t realize that he is the only firstborn who will be spared—so he can learn his lesson. He’s terrified as to his potential fate. He also doesn’t realize that in next week’s parsha, at the Reed Sea, his final act of arrogance will lead to his complete downfall.
The timeless lesson taught here, in countless works of classical literature, and sadly in events both historical and contemporary, is that no one--not even the most powerful leader, authority, or public figure—is free to rule without a mandate from G-d, and the consent and support of those they are charged with serving. To do so will result in their world shrinking around them like Pharaoh’s; until they are the only ones left suffering in it, leaving behind all those who were hurt by arrogance, hunger for power, and selfishness. Pharaoh’s long downfall began with xenophobia, prejudice, and blind personal ambition. Too many people in positions of power today worship those deities as well. Let us pray that they (and we) can find inspiration in G-d, not in the gods they make, so we can all live in peace in a world without the plagues we can create so easily.
Shabbat ShalomRabbi/Hazzan David B. Sislen