BITESIZE TORAH – RABBI DANIEL EPSTEIN 

 

Dear Friend,

As we move into the summer season, we are still conflicted in terms of international travel and a sense of freedom that “Freedom Day” was supposed to confer on us.

Freedom, as a concept, was championed in the Torah through the greatest story of national freedom ever told – the Redemption of the Children of Israel from the oppression and tyranny of the Egyptian empire by God Himself “with signs and wonders, a strong hand and an outstretched arm”.

The very notion of freedom and our raison d’être is always referenced back to “Yetzi’at Mitzrayim” the Exodus from Egypt.

When we make Kiddush, when we say the Shema (the second paragraph of the Shema appears in our Parasha this week), the first of the Ten Commandments, when we affirm our Judaism, it is always with reference to Egypt.

Why is that the case?

Freedom and autonomy are only possible in society because God set them in motion through the story of the Exodus. The paradigm for freedom is, as Rabbi Lord Sacks always stated it, “God, who led His people from slavery to freedom, desires the free worship of free human beings”

As the summer progresses, and maybe we can’t experience the freedom of travel and movement that we have been used to in the past, we should remember that freedom will always return at some point, because God crafted it into the fabric of our existence.

But it is only in the true service of Him, through our care and compassion for others and being kind to ourselves, that we will feel truly free.

Wherever you find yourselves, and for however long this summer – even if your staycation is from home – go out and consciously acknowledge your sense of freedom and treasure it, no matter how it presents itself and how briefly it lasts.

Shabbat shalom and stay safe,

Rabbi Daniel & Ilana