sideshows. Once freed from these distractions, the positive commandments -- the"Thou shall's -- direct us to the spiritual wealth inherent in each waking moment.
Liberty vs. Freedom
Liberty is not the same as freedom. Liberty provides the right to vote, the right to dueprocess of the law, the right to hold unpopular views without fear of retribution.Yet freedom is even greater. Freedom is not restricted to externals, like government orpowerful individuals. Freedom is
power. Thus you can have a situation wheremany people are not free, despite the fact that they live in a land of liberty. Their soulsare in prison.How many people do we know, and how many stories have we heard, of well-intentioned people who end up enslaved to their careers, who give up everything toacquire a faster car and larger home, only in the end to find that they have neglectedtheir children, their marriage, their very selves?Viktor Frankel, a survivor of the concentration camps, wrote in his seminal,
Man's Search For Meaning
: "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last ofthe human freedoms -- to choose one's attitudes in any given set of circumstances."In the camp, stripped of every material and moral cover, Frankel demonstrated thatthose who were struck by the revelation that no one could rob them of their spiritualand moral freedom, had an infinitely greater chance of surviving than others.This is what the Sages mean when they proclaim, "There is no free person except onewho is immersed in Torah."
Bells of Freedom
Egypt in Hebrew is
, related to the word,
, "fence." As long as theJews were in Egypt, they were fenced in, imprisoned. And they endured much morethan physical slavery. They became attached to Egyptian culture, to the degree thatsome later complained about the food they ate at no cost back in Egypt (Numbers11:5) -- ignoring the fact that the price was oppressive physical bondage!It's one thing to take the Jews out of slavery, but another thing to take the slavery outof the Jews.