Parshat Va-ayra - Exodus 7:22: after the water turns to blood:”… and Pharaoh’s heart remained strong, and he did not listen to them.”
Exodus 9:34: after the hail stopped: “ he continued to sin: he made his heart heavy”
When first faced with Moses’ demands, Pharaoh’s heart was strengthened. Is this not a good thing? Pharaoh had to deal with a very difficult situation, a potential rebellion, a potential revolution. He needed to respond with strength and wisdom. But Pharaoh used his strength to not listen. This is the sin – to not listen fully. And because of this refusal to listen, Pharaoh’s heart became heavy with rigidity.
May we use our strength to listen even to very difficult messages, so that our heart does not become so rigid, so hard, and so heavy that we cannot go forward.