Tuesday, March 30, 2004


For the last few weeks, Jews across the world have been preparing for a big event. This event has been a centerpiece to our existence for the last 2000 years. We are getting ready to become a free nation.

This 8 day Jewish holiday of Passover is rapidly arriving. We begin the first night of Passover this coming Monday night, reviewing the Exodus story when we were taken out of Egypt by G-d.

This event is about freedom. However, there is a second part to this freedom. It isn’t only about freedom from slavery, or even freedom to do whatever you want. Fifty days after G-d took us out of Egypt, he brought us to Mount Sinai where he gave us the Torah, the rule book of life. We were now free to follow G-d’s rules.

The story of the Exodus is not just a historical story. We are supposed to see ourselves as having been taken out of slavery. We need to look and find something in this event that we can learn for our own personal lives for today.

Freedom does not only refer to physical freedom; such as being taken out of slavery. We can see freedom in other ways. It can also be freedom from emotional baggage. It can be freedom from bad habits. Freedom is a concept that can be applied to each person in different ways.

While freedom is an important concept, Passover is followed by the giving of the Torah. G-d did not give us absolute freedom to do whatever we choose. Freedom without rules to guide us leads to chaos. So when we come to analyze how we can apply freedom to our lives, we need to find a way to not just free ourselves of something, but to replace that empty space with something better.

An example of freedom is getting rid of a bad habit. Let’s say I have the bad habit of swearing and using my words to hurt others. We know that the power of speech is fantastic. So while words can be used to destroy, they can also be used to build. At the same time I am getting rid of my negative speech, I’ll be working on my positive speech; giving complements, and helping others.

Another example of freedom is freedom from materialism. The idea that a person is defined by the car they drive and home they live in. That whoever dies with the most toys win. Money is not inherently bad. Just as with the power of speech, money can be used in both negative and positive ways. It is for us to choose freedom from the race for the most “stuff”, and find ways to use our money to help others.

Passover is not about absolute freedom without restriction. Absolute freedom will end up in destruction. What it is about is the freedom to become a better person. It is about the freedom to create good relationships between neighbors. It is about the freedom to build others self esteem. Free yourself from the limitations you have set on yourself.

Happy Passover.