- The Obligation of Redemption
- Rivka Olenick
- If a person honestly contemplates life, hopefully one will realize
that the only freedom one has is the freedom to pursue true ideas. A
person who chooses to earnestly study the ideas contained in Torah
will begin to see that doing so provides one with the reward of
developing an independent mind. This is really the greatest freedom.
Unfortunately, what most people assume is real "freedom" is
actually masked as some form of slavery which is defined as bondage
- Slavery is a condition of submission to or domination by some
influence. Hard, continuous work like that done by slaves, drudgery.
How about this definition: One who has no power of resistance, or one
who surrenders himself to any power whatever as a slave to ambition.
It is easy to become an emotional slave to what culture dictates as
freedom. Wealth, fame, acquisition, etc. and the continuous need of
approval from others becomes a futile, frustrating trap that is
impossible to break out of. Wealth, fame and acquisition were not and
are not meant to be the "redeeming" qualities of the Jew.
This is what breaks us down as a people, yet we continue in endless
pursuit and then claim that God is unfair and unjust for not granting
it all to us. Although we live in a free country, our existence as
Jews has a different purpose.
- Philosophically, we have it backwards. How concerned are we
regarding our philosophical picture of life and what we should truly
value in life? We are quite sharp at evaluating our financial picture
spending hours in enthusiastic conversation, even at the Sabbath
table. We allow ourselves to become intellectually shallow and
spiritually diminished if we don't actively pursue true ideas. God
gave us the freedom to pursue His truths, but if we do not actually
pursue them then we are just as bound up as our ancestors were. We are
bound up in our own "present day" oppression. Of course, the
oppression that we create ourselves is the same oppression that we
continue to pursue and can't break away from. "Turn your fantasy
into reality!" We justify this and try to make ourselves feel
better by thinking we have control over it but actually we are
consumed by it. This is a frustrating end in itself because what you
think you really need is just more of what you already have so
anything more than what you already have is useless.
- Every person really lives in their own mind, so either one's mind is
in bondage and one always feels poor or one's mind is free and one
always feels wealthy. Who wouldn't want to become free and wealthy in
the most satisfying way?
- God took us out of Egypt from under the burdens of slavery. He heard
our cries and our groans, and removed us from our oppression. God
restored our energies so that our potential to acquire His knowledge
would also be our goal. All of the energies of slavery were
redirected, so that our new and restored energies could fulfill their
true purpose, which was designed to be a satisfying and appropriate
way to live. We were transformed, to serve as an eved Hashem, a
servant only of God, not man. Slavery would be redefined as bondage
and servitude only to God that would ultimately produce the greatest
freedom for us. We should conduct our lives with continuous thanks and
praise to God by thinking about this idea more seriously and more
frequently. What produces true freedom is the choice to use one's mind
and obtain knowledge and live a reasonable, simple life. Fortunately,
our redemption came with the advantage of a binding obligation: the
system of Torah. When we attach ourselves to it, it can bring a person
an additional acquisition: peace of mind. The geula, redemption is our
obligation in Torah and mitzvos, this is our mesora.
- During the Festival of Matzah, and specifically at the Seder we are
commanded to relive the geula, the redemption as if we were there. The
theme of the Passover seder is that each of us rededicate ourselves to
the geula through each mitzvah we partake of at the Seder. Telling
over the story, haggada to future generations is not just reading the
haggada "to get through it." It is the reenacting of the
haggada and being involved in transmitting the mesora. The seder
night/s is a seder of limud Torah, including the laws of the Seder.
Each mitzva we are obligated to partake of; wine, matzah, maror, etc.
has a specific idea attached to it. When we were taken out of Egypt we
were then designated as the recipients, the receivers of truth as we
still are, that is the point. We understood that it was God, Who took
us out, altered the laws of nature by the Red Sea, destroyed the enemy
of amalek and through that miracle changed our status. We were and are
now to recognize that we were and are to be completely and totally
dependent on God, not man. God redeemed us, and our lives were
transformed with the purpose and the obligation of obtaining yedias
Hashem, God's knowledge. As His Chosen People, we were and are free to
pursue it purposefully, which was and still is the purpose and the
obligation of the geula for the Jewish people. Blessed are You,
Hashem, Almighty God, the King, Whom we can never praise enough!