My fellow Egyptians. Today marks my State of Egypt Address. A long standing tradition dating back to the beginning of the Middle Kingdom.
It is great to see everyone! And I mean that literally after just experiencing those three days of darkness. But we managed to get the lights back on, and the sun is shining over Egypt again.
I am proud to report that we are experiencing the fastest and strongest post plague recovery in the history of our nation. At least since the recovery from the great seven year famine. But who remembers that anyway? I certainly don’t.
I know that many of you want to talk about the nine plagues that we have just experienced over the last few months, but first I want to list the many accomplishments of my administration.
Some of you remember what things were like before my administration. Canaanites were pouring across the border. And they were not sending us their best people. They were sending us spies and robbers, and I assume some of them were brothers and nice people. We have put an end to this and now our borders are secure. Nobody gets in or out!
We were getting killed in trade. The Ishmalites were killing us in trade. The Midyanites were killing us in trade. Today, things have turned around. When the rest of the world needs grain they call us!
We have made Egypt great again.
The economy is booming. Employment is at an all time high with Egyptians working on state subsidized farming projects. Our cities stretch from one end of the land to the other, and taxes have been capped at 20%.
Regarding healthcare, if you like your midwife, you can keep your midwife!
Of course the crowning achievement of my administration has been the Free Israelite Labor Act. This has been a boon for our country. We built the cities of Pitom and Ramses and they cost us practically nothing. We were able to cut material costs by withholding straw, and even so our brick output remained stable.
Things in Egypt are good.
Of course some of you are concerned about these plagues. Some of you have suggested that the plagues are somehow connected to our policy of Israelite slavery. You have said, “how much longer will this be a snare to us? Let them go! You’re destroying Egypt!”
This kind of divisive rhetoric is coming from both sides of the aisle, and it needs to stop.
I am here to tell you that I am standing firm on this issue. Our policy regarding the plagues and their connection to the Israelite slaves will continue to be the same as our policy on religion, our policy on agriculture, and our policy on transportation. Namely, Da Nile!
I am sure that some of you are wondering how I can possibly be so stubborn, so obtuse, and harden my heart in the face of such an obvious truth. You probably think that I must have some kind of supernatural assistance to be able to withstand the pressures of my people and to willingly shut my eyes to reality.
Today I am here to teach you that no divine intervention is necessary. If you follow my example and if you set your mind to it you too can deny even the most obvious painful truths, you can shut out the voices of reasons, and you can suppress the will to change from a dangerous course that leads to disaster.
Here is my four point plan for hardening your heart in the face of painful truths.
If you want to dismiss the message, dismiss the messenger.
If someone is telling you something that you don’t want to hear, sometimes it is enough to simply dismiss the one delivering the message as insignificant. That is what I did. when Moshe first came to me and said that Hashem demands that I send His people out, I said, “Who is this Hashem that I should listen to Him? I don’t know this God and I am not sending out the Israelites.” Someone may tell you in the future to “accept the truth from where ever it comes from.” Don’t listen to that. If a truth is painful or inconvenient, it is much simpler to dismiss the messenger.
Very important, in order to deny the truth, there must always be an alternate explanation. The way to do this is to eliminate the obvious painful truth and whatever remains, no matter how improbably, is a perfectly good explanation for why nothing is your fault. Magic tricks, bad luck, coincidence – all of these are perfectly good ways of explaining how these plagues, that Moshe predicted with uncanny perfect accuracy, are definitely not coming to Egypt as a punishment for my wicked policy of enslavement. There is always an alternative explanation.
Another great technique, if someone is telling you something that you don’t want to hear, surround yourself with lots of people who will tell you exactly what you do want to hear. Why do you think I surround myself with these magicians. What do you think this is, a birthday party? They were my Yes Men. They were there from the beginning supporting my belief that there was no Hashem and these plagues were just a bunch of tricks.
My fellow Egyptians, while I stand with you in your pain and suffering during these terrible plagues, the truth is that this is your pain and suffering not mine. According to the midrash, these terrible plagues only affected you, while I was shielded from them. It is very easy to harden your heart against painful truths when you are not the one suffering the pain of disregarding those truths. So as a rule, I always try to make sure that I am not sensitive to the effects of my actions on others, and it makes it much easier to harden my heart and stubbornly refuse to change.
Moshe has made a prediction about tonight. Something about our first born children. So far he has been nine for nine with his predictions. That tells me that he is due to be wrong. I have a good feeling that his streak ends tonight.
But in the off chance that Moshe is right, then the story of Egypt should serve as a lesson for all of history. One day in the future a Hebrew prophet may say, Yaazov Rasha darko, vi’ish aven machshevotav. Let the wicked man abandon his evil ways, and also let the evil man abandon his rationalizations. The first step to repentance is being able to accept the truth that your actions have consequences and unless you change your course you and others are headed for disaster.
The story of Egypt will be a testament forever that Hashem does not tolerate evil. Justice will be done, whether or not we choose to face the truth.
In the end we will see the great hand that Hashem brought down on Egypt, and we will believe in Hashem and Moshe His servant.