Rabbi Joel

Passover is about freedom.

The Jewish people were slaves, tortured and abused in Egypt for generations. They were saved through a series of miracles which openly revealed the hand of Al-mighty G-d and they were led by Moses to freedom.

The first day of Passover corresponds to the day that they left Egypt and the seventh day of Passover corresponds to the Jewish people‘s miraculous crossing of the Red Sea as it split and provided them safe passage on dry land.

G-d told Moses and the people that the primary intent of taking them out from slavery was to forge them into His nation and to give them the Torah on Mount Sinai. The Torah would be a guide to all humanity’s mission in life.

The Torah contains directives of how to live life and therefore can only be given to people who are free to choose. Freedom however, is not merely a physical state; it is also, and arguably even more so, an emotional and spiritual state of being.

It is not enough to take the slave out of slavery, the slavery must be taken out of the slave.

If a father or mother who is financially successful, highly respected socially and professionally, harbors a secret of addiction which prevents them from being available for their family, are they truly free?

If a teenager is able to attend the best high school or college, is on the honor roll, and has a social media presence putting him or her in the top 10% of their peer group and yet they feel like they are always wearing a mask to hide a deep shame perhaps related to sexual abuse, are they really free?

If someone is highly successful and at the same time feels a persistent void/emptiness deep inside, are they truly free?

The 5th Chabad Rebbe (Spiritual leader) told his son “Three things you must know to be an adult” at his Bar Mitzvah: Don’t fool yourself. Don’t fool others. Don’t let others fool you. And do it all without trying to impress anybody.

In my own words: Maturity demands honesty, honesty to self, honesty to others that incorporates healthy self-esteem and vigilance. Maturity demands humility.

It is here where I believe that Victor Frankl (Holocaust survivor, psychologist, and author of Man’s Search for Meaning) revealed the most important teaching in the fields of psychology and philosophy of the 20th century.

Mankind existentially seeks meaning. We are inherently driven toward purpose.

For a people to experience openly revealed G-dly miracles is not enough. For a people to be free of physical captors and oppression is not enough.

We must prepare, train, and work with ourselves to seek and fulfill our life’s meaning and purpose. The Psalmist writes, “The heart rejoices in those who seek G-d.” We do find but more importantly we seek.

Therefore, Passover does not merely celebrate the freedoms that we are granted. Passover reminds us that we are only truly free when we are in continuous pursuit of self-transcendence. We accomplish this through seeking continuing healthy attachment with our fellow man and woman and directing our life toward a Higher Purpose.

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