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Understanding Freedom

Thursday, 10 May, 2018 - 6:59 pm

On Tuesday, I had the honor of attending Montana’s Law Enforcement Memorial with Attorney General Tim Fox, Gallatin County Sherriff Brian Gootkin, Bozeman Police Chief Steve Crawford and so many others from around the State and Canada. It was awe-inspiring to sit in a room with hundreds of men and women who wake up every morning with one thing in mind: serve and protect. Observing their sincerity and selflessness, contemplating the sacrifice of their family members, who don’t know whether they’ll come home at night (in the presence of Deputy Mason Moore’s family), and the sacred honor which they naturally exude, gave me an opportunity to be grateful for their service.

We are all meant to serve.

In this week’s double Torah portion, Behar-Bechukotai, we read G-d’s famous post Sinai words to the Jewish people: “For the children of Israel are servants to Me; they are My servants, whom I took out of the land of Egypt. I am the Lord, your God”. America was founded on the principals of liberty. Patrick Henry, one of our founders, wrote “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” Yet, in Judaism the ultimate is not whether you’re free or not, it’s what you do with that freedom and who you consider yourself free from? Free from tyranny or free from G-d?

During the Exodus from Egypt, G-d emblazoned freedom, redemption, in our hearts. He didn’t do it so that we’re free to live meaningless lives, seeking to make a few dollars, watch some Netflix and plan our next vacation; he gifted us with liberty so that we are free to be in service of Him, by following His instructions that provide us with a meaningful life. There is nothing wrong with occasional r&r, but for heaven sake, let’s not forget why freedom is important and it’s not just for capitalism and July 4th BBQ’s. This Shabbat, as we conclude the book of Leviticus, let’s ponder the meaning of freedom and servitude, and while Judaism abhors forced enslavement of another human, it cherishes our selfless service to the Creator.

Free from shackles; Free to serve!

May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May He protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!! 

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