web analytics
August 22, 2014 / 26 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Gaining Our Freedom Each And Every Year


Once again we find ourselves celebrating the yom tov of Pesach – the same holiday we celebrated last year at this time, and next year we’ll be doing the same.

Traditionally, Pesach commemorates the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt – a pivotal point in our becoming a people: we gained our freedom – physically, and very soon after, spiritually. We refer to the holiday as the time of our freedom – z’man chairusenu – and the Pesach seder, with all its obligations and practices, thoroughly stresses the message of freedom and God’s redemption of the Jewish people throughout the ages.

That Pesach has its own set of special practices and mitzvot is not surprising; most of the holidays we observe do. But what makes Pesach unique is that we don’t only set out to remember what happened by utilizing the symbolism of the mitzvoth or the specific wording of the liturgy and blessings of the holiday; rather, we retell the story in a way that is designed to make it as real as possible, and with the unique instruction that we should consider it as if we too are the ones who actually participated in this magnitudinous event.

The Rambam in his wording in the Mishneh Torah stresses: “In every generation one is obligated to see himself as if he just left slavery in Egypt.”

Is this requirement to personalize the Exodus intended as an educational, experiential tool? If so, it’s highly effective. Perhaps the requirement to see ourselves as having just been freed is based on the logic that we’re free today because our ancestors were freed then. It was a long time ago, but we live with their gained freedom.

The specific language, however, suggests there’s more. Rav Dessler writes that “z’man chairusenu” has literal meaning. The month of Nissan is a month of “geulah,” of redemption. The Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (11A) says in the name of Rabbi Yehoshua, “B’Nissan nigalu, b’Nissan asidin l’gael” (“In Nissan we were redeemed, and in Nissan we will be redeemed in the future”).

Nissan, we’re told, is a highly auspicious time for redemption. The Torah, which doesn’t name the months but refers to them by numbers, considers Nissan the first of the months, or “rosh chodashim,” which the Midrash says is “rosh l’geulah” – “the first, or foremost, for geulah.”

But if gaining our freedom is in some way a constant from year to year, and this year we’ll gain it again, what exactly is the freedom that we gain each year anew? And what was the freedom that was achieved at the time the Jews left Egypt? Seemingly, it wasn’t a complete freedom – we became free of Egyptian mastery but almost immediately accepted upon ourselves the yoke of Heaven, of God’s mitzvot.

We never gained our total freedom at the Exodus, but by leaving the physical and spiritual incarceration of the land of Egypt the Jewish people gained what we consider a truer freedom – one most valuable to humankind: the freedom to choose.

True freedom, we learn (as children and usually more so as adults) is not to be free from all influences. We need structure, direction, and boundaries in order to live life to its full potential. This the Torah provided as soon as the constraints of Egypt and all that it represented were lifted and the Jewish people were free enough to choose for themselves.

Seven weeks after the Exodus, the Jewish people used their newfound ability and chose to accept God’s word (“Na’ase v’nishma…”) They didn’t become totally free from influences; they became totally free to choose those influences. They chose to be influenced by the Torah; they chose that as their destiny.

Freedom means different things to different people, depending on their place in life, and a myriad of variables. We tend to think of it as the ultimate in human existence, and if we ponder the question of whether it’s better to be free from the start or to go from slavery to freedom, we might say the answer is obvious. Not having the problem to start with is always best – isn’t it? Would it not have been better if the Jewish people were never slaves?

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Gaining Our Freedom Each And Every Year”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Photo: Rotter.net / Tikonist
Live Updates: Ashdod Shul Hit by Rocket (Latest Update: 5:28 pm)
Latest Indepth Stories
Charles Krauthammer

Wye would be seen to have set the groundwork for the creation of a Palestinian state

David_Grossman

Blaming Israel for the violence in Gaza, he ends up justifying Hamas’s terrorism.

488px-WielkaSynagoga3_Lodz

In the Thirties it was common for anti-Semites to call on Jews to “go to Palestine!”

Netanyahu-Obama-030212

Obama never hid his contempt for the Israeli government or the majority of Israel’s voters.

“This arbitrary ban is an ugly stain on our democracy, and it also undermines the rule of law.”

We take US “aid” for psychological reasons-if we have an allowance, that means we have a father.

ZIM Piraeus isn’t Israeli-owned or flagged, incidentally, it is Greek operated.

Foolish me, thinking the goals were the destruction of Hamas thereby giving peace a real chance.

The free-spirted lifestyle didn’t hold your interest; the needs of your people did.

And why would the U.S. align itself on these issues with Turkey and Qatar, longtime advocates of Hamas’s interests?

Several years ago the city concluded that the metzitzah b’peh procedure created unacceptable risks for newborns in terms of the transmission of neo-natal herpes through contact with a mohel carrying the herpes virus.

The world wars caused unimaginable anguish for the Jews but God also scripted a great glory for our people.

We were quite disappointed with many of the points the secretary-general offered in response.

Judging by history, every time Hamas rebuilds their infrastructure, they are stronger than before.

His father asked him to read Psalms from the Book of Tehilim every day.

More Articles from Judah S. Harris

Once again we find ourselves celebrating the yom tov of Pesach – the same holiday we celebrated last year at this time, and next year we’ll be doing the same.

Traditionally, Pesach commemorates the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt – a pivotal point in our becoming a people: we gained our freedom – physically, and very soon after, spiritually. We refer to the holiday as the time of our freedom – z’man chairusenu – and the Pesach seder, with all its obligations and practices, thoroughly stresses the message of freedom and God’s redemption of the Jewish people throughout the ages.

“Paper Clips,” a documentary filmed over two years, is the important story of an educational initiative, begun in October 1998, that evolved into something greater and unexpected when a student in the Holocaust course at Whitwell asked the question that we might all ask: “What is six million? I’ve never seen that before.”

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/gaining-our-freedom-each-and-every-year/2007/03/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: