Post Passover Reflections

Passover has passed over. We’ve left the land of our oppressors and crossed the divided sea. We’ve exchanged the bread of affliction for Manna in the wilderness. Gone are the taskmasters who owned every minute of every day, replaced by the broad expanse of the dessert on our way to the mountain where we will receive the Torah from the God who has redeemed us. But freedom isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be.  Making choices in this brave new world of freedom are much more difficult for someone who has never had the opportunity nor the awareness that there was an option. Waking up in the morning with nothing else to do but to gather one’s food for the day must have been a totally different experience from being wakened at the break of dawn to eat your breakfast on the way to the construction site.  With this lack of direction freedom may have at times felt more like wandering, which it probably was at times. In fact, it may have been this lack of direction and dictatorship that led the newly freed Hebrew slaves to once again place themselves in the bondage of idolatry as they worshiped the golden calf. They were not yet ready for the responsibility that freedom would bring, for no one had prepared them.

I have heard it said that there is no such thing as freedom, only the unknown. To be truly free one must step out of one’s comfort zone and into that expansive space of “that which is yet to be attained.” But as we reach out into that wilderness we must remember that our past always accompanies us. Part of our journey is to break free of that part of ourselves that clings to the comfort of a time that may have once served us well, but is no longer in our best interest. Looking back on that time we knew what to expect and what was expected of us.  Now, looking ahead we must bring our past into a new present, one where we bring our experience into a new vision of ourselves, one where we are free to exercise the rights and responsibility of mature human beings, accountable to ourselves, each other and to God.  This is the message of freedom. This is my wish for each Bar and Bat Mitzvah as we stand on the Bimah of Sinai and receive the Torah that was written just for them.  insha’allah, kein y’hi l’ratzon, may it be God’s will.