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 and servitude.
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!




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