Carefully ponder the question. When you think about the beating, pulsating muscle within your body, would you describe your heart as giving? Open? Guarded? Closed? Is your heart filled with mercy and compassion or anger and spite? Pause for a moment and ask yourself: what is the word that best characterizes your heart?
The Torah first describes Pharaoh has hardening his own heart and this week, God continues the action in making Pharaoh’s heart heavy. Suzanne Singer writes, “Only afterward (after the fifth plague) does God take over, starting with the sixth plague suggesting that Pharaoh has foregone the chance to operate independently.” Supporting this claim, modern psychoanalyst Erich Fromm writes, “The more man’s heart hardens, the less freedom he has to change; the more he is determined by previous action…there comes a point of no return, when man’s heart has become so hardened…that he has lost the possibility of freedom.” While we may think closing our heart is an exercise of free will, Fromm suggests the opposite. Less and less is a human being capable of making new, creative decisions when the heart is cut off from the rest of the world.
Open-hearted? Heart of Gold? Stone-Hearted? Indifferent Heart? Who are you? Your freedom depends on the heart you choose.