Personal Freedom in the 21st Century

4 months ago Noah Roffe 0

The holiday of Pesach is all about being free. Around 3330 years ago, Hashem took our ancestors out of slavery in Egypt, through Moshe.  It was then that the Jewish people became a nation, and where personal freedom was finally fulfilled.

What is personal freedom anyway, and was it the same c. 3330 years ago? In order to understand, let’s take a look at the Passover story.

Nowadays, our society does not recognize what true freedom is. We have confused rebellion and freedom, even though they are not intertwined. When most people think about the word “freedom”, they usually think of the ability to break the rules/be free from all restrictions and inhibitions, which is actually the definition of “rebellion”. For example, people assume that restrictions on an individual’s actions, such as kashrut, are automatically a violation of personal freedom. Additionally, when people see how many rules and prohibitions there are to Judaism, they usually assume that it is against freedom and free will. However, this is not the case.  

Judaism, however, recognizes the true meaning of freedom.

Personal freedom is the ability to act in conjunction with your moral beliefs and values.  According to Judaism, a truly free person is one who seeks to help others, has patience, acts according to his/her conscience, and has the ability to control their desires.

One of the biggest indications/difference between a free man and a slave is time. Free individuals have the ability to choose what they do with their time and also have the ability to express themselves.  

The Haggadah teaches us an interesting lesson about time. It commands us to view ourselves as if we are personally leaving slavery from Egypt. Almost everyone has trouble with this commandment: How are we supposed to feel as if we escaped from slavery when we are free people?!?!?

The truth is, we are not free. We are slaves to peer pressure, technology, and social media. These three things that teenagers are most vulnerable to control our time management. We are always so focused on what others think of us, that we don’t have time to think and appreciate ourselves.

When most people think of Pesach, they usually think it’s strict laws and guidelines. However, Pesach is not only this: Pesach is a time of personal freedom, where we are able to appreciate ourselves and become free from the slavery of peer pressure and social media.