In the first perek of Chavakuk, we are told that though Nevuchadnetzar believed in Hashem, he made himself believe that he was a god. How could he be foolish enough to believe such a thing? The answer can be seen from with a similar predicament with regards to Pharoh – as we see in Yechezkel (from the haftara of parashas Va’era).
Yechezkel reveals that Pharoh’s downfall was due to his arrogance. Pharoh declared that even G-d could not topple him: “The Nile is mine and I created myself” he proclaims. This seems incomprehensible. How could Pharoh defy his own knowledge of Egypt’s past experience of being subjugated to G-d’s ten plagues by declaring himself impregnable even to the Divine?
The following story should shed some light. Several years ago, a construction worker lost concentration while drilling and actually drilled through his own foot. Yelling in pain and unable to walk, he was carried into an ambulance. Upon removing his shoe, the doctor found that the drill had merely permeated the gap between the man’s toes: the pain and paralysis were figments of his imagination. Such is the power of the mind to divorce oneself from reality. This is doubly true when it comes to believing something that one would like to be true. Reality is ‘reshaped’ to fit one’s own constructs and notions. Hence, when it suited Pharoh (and his ego) to declare himself utterly supreme and impregnable, Pharoh’s mind simply ‘adjusted’ reality. He deleted the ten plagues from his mental inbox, and replaced them with his uploaded version of reality.
And the same applies to Nevuchadnetzar. When it suited him, he ‘divorced’ his belief in Hashem and allowed himself to believe that he was also a god.
Rav Dessler summarizes this concept beautifully: “There is no thought without inserting one’s own constructs…the mind will only see truth when one’s heart genuinely seeks truth.”
In a world in which events are misconstrued and misrepresented at whim, may we develop the strength of character and mind to see reality objectively.