When we think about the Torah portion, many people are suprised to read the first sentence:
1. The Lord said to Moses: "Come to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, in order that I may place these signs of Mine in his midst,
I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants. G-d has made it so that Pharaoh is not able to bend his will. Why would G-d do that? Why would he, benevolent that he is, create a circumstance where he isn't getting the best from the people he's created. Rather, he's creating a situation where he has to 'punish' them, as we usually think about the plagues.
'In order that I may place these signs of Mine in his midst,'
Such a powerful thought. In order that these signs may be there. In order that he may see these signs. When we read the story of Moses and the Pharaoh we come to understand that the Pharaoh would bend, then change his mind. His advisors would bend, then change their minds. Over and over again, they lose their resolve.
It's like that with children. Over and over they test our wills, and often we bend. Often it is easier to give-in, or move along then to take the time, see the signs and do the parenting. Sometimes, especially with a two-year old and a baby, I think I miss the signs right in front of my face. You probably know what I'm talking about. The signs that the day is to much, that the situation is out of hand. The subtle signs that are right in front of my face. It's not until there's an explosion, a plague if you will, that I really understand what's happening. It's not until my child is doing something so beyond our values, our ideals, that I realize that I've bent right over.
All to often in our life we miss out on the subtle signs of life. Our partner needing more space or more comfort. Our children needing a bit more guidance or nurturing. So it is with Pharaoh. He needed something powerful, something so above the ordinary to really see the power of G-d.
There are plagues all around us, and sometimes we need a cosmic shift to make a change. This portion reminds us that these plagues are not just moments, but calls to action. A chance to change our actions, a chance to shift our thinking.
In our lives and the lives of those around us we need to take these signs, these plagues, and use them as a way to shape our futures. To change what we can to affect the world. To have our eyes opened to the path or rightness.