After Passover, the festival of freedom, the question resonates in my head. Do you feel free? Is anyone truly free? Can anyone be completely free? What do we mean by freedom?
At Passover seder we toast the Almighty with four cups of wine corresponding to the four languages of redemption used by the bible to describe our God-given freedom from bondage in Egypt.
If there are four kinds of freedom there must be four kinds of slavery:
- Physical Slavery: to redeem captives is one of the greatest mitzvot, the Torah starts with the concept of the universality of man. Every human being was created in the Divine image therefore slavery is abhorrent. The Divine freeing of the Israelites slaves from Egypt should be seen as the prototype for the emancipation of all slaves.
- Spiritual Slavery: The Torah prohibits all kinds of superstitions practices, divination, astrological predictions, sooth-saying and magic. These things are kinds of spiritual slavery, a person who is superstitious is trapped in a spiritual web of different imaginary forces.
- Emotional Slavery: we all have emotional (irrational) attachments to various things. Emotional attachment is the key to strong family bonding, however too much attachment could lead to co-dependency and may be destructive. The Torah emphasizes that a person should leave his parents and cling to his spouse. Break the emotional ties of one’s youth and evolve to the next stage. Emotional freedom gives the person control over their attachments.
- Mental Slavery: Habit is a form of mental slavery. We’re all creatures of habit. When the brain gets accustomed to thinking along a certain path, after a while a person is unable to do anything else. Addictions, phobias, OCD are probably the worst form of mental slavery.
The Israelites were physically free. They were taken out of Egypt, however mentally they do not have the self-confidence to enter the land of Canaan and develop their own future as a people. The irony of the Passover story is that a whole generation of males who exited Egypt did not survive, with a few exceptions, to fulfill the dream of entering Israel. Although they were now physically free, mentally they still perceived themselves as slaves, unable to forge their own destinies. Emotionally they were still attached to Egypt and spiritually they did not have enough faith in God to go it alone. Only the next generation could develop and be truly free.
Physical slavery is the easiest to liberate. The chains of other types of bondage can be much harder to break.
Has Passover liberated you?