A few weeks ago, the Torah Portion was the story of the Ten Plagues and the Exodus from Egypt. Much of the discussion at Torah study that weekend was about what it meant that G-d “hardened the heart of” Pharaoh. Different people had different impressions, of course, about the what, how, and why of G-d hardening Pharaoh’s heart and, if so, why Pharaoh should receive any blame for his responses to Moses.
But what most resonated with me was how Pharaoh’s anger at Moses caused Pharaoh to be incapable of dealing more effectively, rationally, or productively with Moses’s desire to take the Hebrews out of Egypt to worship their G-d. Pharaoh’s anger and arrogance caused him to be “stuck” … to be mentally immobile … to not be able to think logically “in the moment” … to be unable to compromise to reach a solution benefitting himself.
And … here’s where it gets interesting for a geek like me …
When one believes G-d (as Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey) is the very essence of Being in each moment … the Unfolding of Reality in time and space … the complete sum of everything that is and everything that is not … then … to be “stuck” — because we long to return to the past or because we fear what may come in the future — is to be “out-of-sync” with the unfolding essence of G-d, with reality as it exists at that very moment.
And “out-of-sync” is not a good feeling!! It leaves us unsure about ourselves and about our place in “the story.” When we feel that way, we become anxious and/or afraid. Then, to cover our fear and/or anxiety, we rather instinctively respond with arrogance, anger, or feigned indifference and — just like Pharaoh — our response places us even more out-of-sync with The Unfolding Reality.
… and being more out-of-sync increases our fear … resulting in more anger and arrogance … bringing another ineffective response … placing us more out-of-sync …
This cycle can repeat infinitely, leaving us spinning out-of-control and moving further away from The Unfolding Reality …
UNLESS we find the strength to stop the cycle by dropping our anger and arrogance (our defense mechanisms), so that we actually may address the source of the problem — OUR FEAR — and bring ourselves back into sync with The Unfolding Reality.
Perhaps this is why Rav Nachman said: “All the world is a very narrow bridge, and the most important thing is to have no fear at all.” Only by standing on the narrow bridge and dealing honestly with our fears can we prevent our ego and its defense mechanisms from turning us into a modern-day Pharaoh by spinning us out of control away from The Unfolding Reality.
Only by standing on the narrow bridge do we have a chance of living in sync with The One.