The Torah tell us (7:3) that Hashem hardened Pharaoh’s heart. There is a famous question on this: We know that Hashem gives a person choice. And so if He hardened Pharaoh’s heart, it seems as if He is taking away his choice. It also seems unfair!

The Shla Hakodesh tells us if Pharaoh would have been forced to let the Klal Yisrael go because of the miracles that happened and he would say “you are right and I am wrong – Hashem rules the world” it would only have been lip service. It was necessary to harden his heart, up the ante, giving more and more severe punishments, until he was able not only to mouth “Hashem is Omnipresent” but to actually feel and believe it. In fact, the Medrash tells us that the King of Ninveh at the times of Yonah was this Pharaoh of Egypt during the Exodus, and the reason he was scared of Hashem was that he indeed learned his lesson well.

This is true not only in what people see, but actually what they feel, too. Many times a person is asked for forgiveness, and he says that he forgives, but in reality it is only lip service or partial forgiveness. He does not mean all of it. I am not just talking about the small child who just mouths “sorry”. Even adults who truly think that they forgive may be surprised that after they have forgiven, when they see that person anger rises as a primary emotion.

This also plays out in our lives. Many times we say and do things and we actually think that we are “there” – believing and living those things that we say. However, sometimes we are just fooling ourselves  and we are not really “there” at all. This place is a golus from which each person has to personally extricate himself. Being locked into our own values and our own way of thinking to the point that when someone proves us wrong we don’t really accept it, is the depth of that galus. Just like Pharaoh, we also live with some level of denial. Our true geula will come when we are really connected to the things that we believe in.