Components of Freedom
By the Grace of G-d
11th of Nissan, 5722
Brooklyn, New York
To my Brethren, Everywhere
G-d bless you -
Greeting and Blessing:
The Festival of Pesach, the Season of our Liberation, being a part of Torah ("Torah" in the sense of instruction and guidance), teaches us the true concept of freedom.
Unlike other, often strange, interpretations of this concept, the Festival of Pesach reminds and teaches us that true freedom means total freedom; that is, full and complete freedom in all three aspects which constitute human life:
- the realm of the soul,
- the realm of the body, and
- the surrounding world in which the individual lives -
in each of the three areas individually, and in all of them together.
This means that a Jew must strive for true freedom in all of the said three aspects of his daily life, and in such a way that not only would they not be in conflict with one another, but, on the contrary, one would supplement and complete the other. Only this kind of freedom may be called true freedom.
It is self-evident that the said harmonious and total freedom cannot be achieved in a way of life whereby the soul, which is truly a part of G-d (the G-dliness in man), would be subordinated to the body, and both of them (body and soul) to the (material) world. The superior cannot serve the inferior and be content to do so. The highest aspect of human life, the soul, will never acquiesce in subservience to the body. The obvious conclusion, therefore, is that true freedom can be achieved only when the lower constituents of human life - the body and material environment - will be elevated to the highest possible, for them, degree of affinity, with the soul and its aspirations, while the soul, on its own level, will liberate itself from everything that hinders her fulfillment.
The enslavement in Egypt, and the subsequent liberation, reflect precisely the concept of freedom defined above:
The enslavement was complete and total in all three aforementioned aspects of human life;
- spiritual enslavement in, and to, a country of the lowest moral depravity, for which reason Mitzraim was called the "abomination of the earth";
- extreme physical slavery of "hard labor";
- the fullest deprivation of their share of material world possessions to which they were entitled.
The Liberation, likewise was in all the three aspects, and in the fullest measure:
- First and foremost, spiritual liberation - "Withdraw and take for yourselves lambs...for the Passover sacrifice". Not only was it a withdrawal from worship of the Egyptian deity, but also an open demonstration of its nothingness;
- the fullest physical liberation, by marching out of Egypt with a "high hand" (raised hand), with song and jubilation;
- as for their share of material wealth, they went out "with great substance".
In seeking self-liberation, there are those who confine themselves to their soul: they daven and learn Torah, and so on, but when they sit down to eat and drink, their enslavement to the animal in man becomes very much in evidence.
There are others who recognize that freedom must include also the body, and that the gratification of the bodily needs should conform to the true Jewish way. However, they are Jews at home only; when they go outside and go about their business (what should be their business) they feel no responsibility to elevate their share in the material world; they are slaves to the "Mitzraim" environment, for the Torah and Shulchan Aruch, their liberation from Mitzraim, is left behind, locked up at home.
Comes Pesach and reminds every Jew that the Liberation from Mitzraim should be a daily experience: "Remember the day of your liberation from the land Mitzraim all the days of your life".
The Jew is reminded daily: You are free, liberated in soul and in body; and this personal liberation of body and soul makes it possible to convert the substance of Mitzraim into a great Jewish substance. "I demand only according to their capacity." G-d, the Creator of man, declares that what he requests and demands of Jews does not exceed their capacity and ability to fulfill; all that is needed is the firm determination to fulfill G-d's request. And this is the way, indeed the only way, to our true freedom, freedom from the inner personal Golus, and freedom also from the general Golus, through our Righteous Moshiach.
Wishing you a kosher and happy Pesach,