April 2017 - Freedom

     One of the central experiences of us as a people is the journey from slavery to freedom.  We recall this event each Passover when we recall the story of the exodus from Egypt as we read the Haggadah and sing the songs at the seder.  In the retelling, Judaism elevates economic, social, and psychological freedom to a religious principle.  Freedom is an ongoing endeavor.  As individuals, we need continually to reflect on the ways we get stuck – in other words, how we live imprisoned lives and how we are thereby diminished.
     Judaism gave us an opportunity to reflect at the time of the High Holidays, and then again now, halfway through the year, we have another chance.  How can we free ourselves from limitations which constrict our spirits?  How can we help others tear down the barriers which limit their freedom?  Though we haven’t experienced slavery first-hand, it is such a pivotal event in our history as a people that it is never far from the surface, and the exodus and its wonderment appear in all of our prayer services.  In our daily morning prayers is a blessing that says, "Praised are You, Adonai, for making me free,” that is, for not making me a slave.
     This year, as we convene in our homes for our family seder or here at synagogue for our community seder on the second night, may we be ever mindful of the freedom in which we live, and may we extend its blessings to those who still live under external and internal oppression.  We sing “Dayenu,” it would have been sufficient, as we thank God for the many miracles bestowed upon us.  Best wishes for a chag sameach!

L’hitraot –- until next time.