Pharaoh would not have been a big fan of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as he truly believed that Egypt was the center for magic arts. In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Vaeira, Moshe and Aharon initially tried to prove God’s wonders to Pharaoh by demonstrating how Aharon’s staff could turn into snake. The Midrash in Exodus Rabbah 9:4 states that when Pharaoh’s magicians replicated the ‘trick’ that had been performed by Moshe and Aharon, the magicians teased them, saying: “You are bringing straw to Afarim [a city famous for its straw]!” Pharaoh mocked them by inviting school children as well as his own wife to successfully perform the same magic trick of turning a staff into a serpent.
This Midrash demonstrates that as as long as Pharaoh believed that Egypt was the world’s leader in magic, it would be difficult to convince him about the power of God’s wonders. The tides began to turn after the third plague of lice, as the Torah states that the magicians were unable to replicate this plague. The magicians told Pharaoh: “This is the finger of God!” (Exodus 8:15) The fact that the magicians now recognized God’s wonders weakened Egypt’s reputation in magic arts. It will take a few more plagues for Pharaoh to recognize that Egypt’s magical powers were just an illusion.