The Author

In a fortnight, many of us will be munching on matzos, eating the maror (bitterness), which is actually quite sweet, and drinking four glasses of wine on seder night, the first night of Passover. Four glasses are no match for Purim’s drink-‘til-you-can’t-tell-right-from-wrong imperative, but still ranks pretty high on the “sloshed” scale, so combined with good food, and hopefully good family atmosphere, we can expect to have a good seder all and all.

On Passover, we celebrate becoming free, liberated from Pharaoh’s enslavement. We are commanded to mention and commemorate the Passover each year so we will not forget that God saved us from slavery. This is a worthwhile lesson because you cannot value the present if you have no perception of the past.

However, Pharaoh did not die in the Passover story, nor is he dead now. He operates in much more clandestine and subtle ways than back then, but they are is still very harmful.

Maimonides, the great 12th century scholar, wrote in a letter to his son: “You should know, my son, that Pharaoh, king of Egypt, is indeed the evil inclination.” Evil inclination, regrettably, is something we all have. In fact, judging by the way we’re running our societies, our growing self-centeredness, alienation, and even cruelty to one another, it seems as though Pharaoh has the upper hand, so far.

As in Hollywood, so in life, in this case, Pharaoh will lose. But he will not go down without a fight. And because in this day and age there is not one Pharaoh that we need to escape, but as many Pharaohs as there are people, since they are inside of us, we need to find a new tactic.

It is written in a special book from the 18th century, The Pleasantness of Elimelech, that “Pharaoh, who is called ‘the evil inclination,’ makes one stiff-necked,” meaning haughtily stubborn. This arrogance separates us even more from one another and makes us more like Pharaoh.

But what does it mean that we have an evil inclination? It means that we are evil to each other. You cannot be evil toward nothing. There must be an objective over which the evil can manifest. If we were evil to the core, but sat quietly in our homes not harming any thing or any one, no one would think that we are evil, and we would not be able to detect our wickedness, even if we wanted to examine ourselves. For the most part, the objectives of our evil are other people. We are all showing too much evil to each other, making our world feel more like the Egyptian desert than the land flowing with milk and honey that it could be were it not for Pharaoh.

Where can we run from this Pharaoh? What is the new tactic we can employ? The truth of the matter is that you don’t run from the inner Pharaoh. Instead, you run to others!

Pharaoh, the evil inclination, causes our ill-will toward each other, and we will defeat it by developing good will toward each other. If we don’t have such a will, it doesn’t mean we cannot have it and being good to one another is a naïve notion.

What it does mean is that we simply have to try harder, and include more people in the effort until we develop this good will.

Passover is not just passing over from one place to another across a divided sea. Passover means passing from one state of mind to another! It is passing over from unfounded hatred to unbounded solidarity among us. This is the exodus from Egypt we must carry out today. The commandment to remember what the Egyptians did to us in Egypt is so important even today because if we forget it, we will forget that we are still fighting Pharaoh—the one within us.

So let us not pass up this opportunity where we are all together for this significant occasion, and really pass over from ill-will to good will. Let’s do it together; it is so much easier this way, and let’s decide this Passover that we are putting our past hatred in one big pile, as high as Mount Sinai, and we are all climbing above it, meeting each other at the summit.

Happy Passover

Article by Michael Laitman

Michael Laitman is a Professor of Ontology, a PhD in Philosophy and Kabbalah, and an MSc in Medical Bio-Cybernetics. He was the prime disciple of Kabbalist, Rav Baruch Ashlag (the RABASH). Prof. Laitman has written over 40 books, translated into dozens of languages; he is the founder and president of the ARI Institute, and a sought after speaker. He can be reached through