Cultivating Freedom

Rabbi Shai Held

When is Character (Not) Destiny?

The conviction that human beings have the freedom—and the responsibility—to choose how we will act lies at the very heart of Jewish theology and spirituality. Not surprisingly, then, commentators both traditional and modern have often found the idea of God hardening Pharaoh's heart—so central to the book of Exodus—deeply disturbing. How could God rob Pharaoh of his freedom, they wonder, and then punish him for his deeds? Shai Held analyzes Maimonides' response to this question and whether it has support in the biblical text.