Subconscious Thoughts by Netanel Spitz
A man’s life is what his thoughts make of it. -Marcus Aurelius
In this week’s parsha, parashat Beshalach, once Pharaoh hears that the Jews had turned around it says “וחזקתי את לב פרעה” that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart to chase after them.
In the next sentence it says “ויהפך לבב פרעה” that Pharaoh’s heart was flipped.
This distinction is very interesting, because as the main understanding of “וחזקתי” is that Pharaoh was coming to a decision but wasn’t sure with himself, and God helped him feel secure about his decision. On the other hand “ויהפך” seems to imply that Pharaoh wanted to do one thing and God made him do something completely different.
So what is going on here?
To answer this question we need to first look at how the brain works. Science has figured out that we don’t come to a decision when we think we do, rather it’s preceded by subconscious activity that we are not aware of, and that turns into a conscious decision.
In my opinion, the distinction between the two words are two different perspectives on the situation, one from the perspective of Pharaoh and one from the perspective of God.
Simply God took a subconscious thought of Pharaoh to chase after the Jews and pushed it into his conscious thought.
So, from the perspective of Pharaoh it felt like his “heart was flipped”, a completely different idea that he never thought about entering his mind.
But, from God’s perspective, it was a thought that Pharaoh always had but wasn’t aware of.
In Life we come to thoughts or ideas, that feel like they simply appear out of thin air, as if blown in by the wind because someone left the window open.
But I think that we can understand from this, that thoughts come from a subconscious part of us that we don’t know so well, our deeper selves.
May we all find time to listen and learn are true selves.