Free Will and Pharoah

Junior Max B. reflects on free will in a thought-provoking essay for The Forward's Youth Writing Contest. 

"Reading the Exodus story as a kid, it always seemed to me that one character lacked freedom on a deeper level than even the slave protagonists: Pharaoh. The Torah tells us that his “heart is hardened” repeatedly throughout his encounters with Moshe and the Israelites, which causes him to make evil, destructive decisions for those around him and eventually for himself. As an elementary schooler, this demonstration of a divine capability to completely overcome an individual’s free will terrified me. I wondered, what does this mean about the freedom of my decisions and the decisions of those around me? How can I ever feel truly free...?"

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The Jewish Community High School of the Bay (JCHS) is a unique college preparatory high school committed to integrating deep learning, universal wisdom, and Jewish values. We empower each student to embrace her or his Jewish identity, generate empathy and compassion, delight in lifelong education, and improve the world.