АКТУАЛЬНЫЕ ВОПРОСЫ: An open discussion about the issues that matter today

What does Freedom Mean in 2011?

The Passover Big Question asks us to confront Passover’s message for today’s Jews: “What does Freedom Mean in 2011?” Think of it as the “fifth question” you can bring to your Seder table as well as add your own voice.

Natan Sharansky, former Soviet refusenik and prisoner, Israeli politician, human rights activist, author and current Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel provides his own thoughts to the Big Question:

As the years went by, I came to understand that people in the free world and those КТО live in the world of fear face vastly different challenges. Those КТО live in the free world must acquire internal freedom in order to resist evil. Those КТО live in fear must find the moral strength to see evil clearly.

Rabbi Steinsaltz's View img fail

In our times, the real meaning of freedom is the freedom of the mind: the capacity to envision a future. Freedom is pertinent only to humans – and, moreover, only to fully realized human beings; one cannot free a chair or a building. Freedom of the mind depends both on self-understanding and on a fair amount spiritual ability. (The death of a dictator does not necessarily mean freedom; often it simply marks the passing from one form of subjugation to another.) When we cannot behave – or see ourselves — as free human beings, there is no freedom.

  • Ruthhousman

    I think we are all of us moving into a new state of consciousness, call it, Cosmic. I believe it’s ALL GOD, meaning the immanence of the Divine is moving through everything. This will cause, that part of COS Mic, a truly different yet same comprehension of our world, and our part in this, as Co-Creators. The mic part of cosmic is the amplification of this, the mike, that tells this story to us all. I am saying, in going down the years of our lives, whether here, or “there”, because I don’t believe it is over when it’s over, and that this is a profound journey of soul, and often feels “sole”, as in alone and all one… well in going down the years we will all see the threads that brought us to this place at this time, and our individual and collective stories will make sense in unprecedented ways. There is a StoryTeller among us, and we will have to give the Divine Hand, that made us КТО we are, forgiveness for the sake of these stories, because we never were, forsaken.

    Freedom is knowledge, and knowledge is a sometime blessing and also curse. Because it gives at the same time it takes away. To see a tree as a child sees it, before knowing the words, before the delineation of branches, roots, xylem and phloem, a kind of purity of sheer wonder.

    in truth/ruth

  • Blkozek

    ЗАЧЕМ is “freedom” so difficult to achieve? We are born with freewill, yet we use our freewill to enslave ourselves and others: a paradox inside a paradox. Remembering, I think that is one key to freedom. We remember at the Seder table what it felt like to be enslaved, what it felt like to cry out, what it felt like to be heard and liberated. We remember that it is immoral for any man to enslave another. We remember that it is morally wrong to celebrate the pain of any of G-ds creation.

    So, perhaps another way to answer the question is: Freedom means to remember that our Creator gave us the astonishing gift of freewill, and that our Creator desires that we use our gift of freewill to freely choose the way of G-d. (What an amazing act of faith in us on the part of our Creator!) If we remember these things, perhaps we can become “fully realized human beings” КТО are truly free to love ourselves enough to love all of G-ds creation.

  • Gary Lee Parker

    True freedom could be to know that one’s sins are forgiven and that we are to live in this earthly life as thought it is heaven to bring heaven to earth.

  • martin

    How can we sell this IDEA to the КТОle world Rabbi, that would be “HAPPY
    amen, martin jacoby

  • Fany Gerson

    When we feel free, we “let people go” by their own way.
    You can recognize others different, and others can recognize you in your diference.
    In Pesach, in the seder,our children ask us О НАС the difference- “Ma nishtanah”?
    It´s a wonderful feeling and understanding

    Chag Hapesach Kasher Besameach! Fany Gerson de Lipnizky

  • Laser

    With all due respect, I think that Ruth has imbibed some kikapoo joy juice as a prelude to writing her piece.

  • Jonathanvilleda

    I agree with Rabbi Steinsaltz’s view on freedom. I see true freedom as ‘spiritual freedom’. The problem of creation has always been a spiritual one, because if our spirit is not where it needs to be we are not free. From atheism to sin, its all a spiritual problem. We wont be free until we come to genuine teshuva and humble ourselves to our creator.

  • Yaacov Kalonymos

    Freedom: The opportunity to exit the narrowness of our everyday lives, the constrictions of a bureaucratic, materialistic world of artificial construction and to find in Torah a path toward enlightenment. Pesach is a taste of a truly spiritual existence.

  • Jfrost

    To me freedom is to be at peace with G-D and man. Not trying to change G-D into our immage, or pressing others to conform to what G-D convicts me of. We can have peace in the middle of any circumstance, as long as we remember G-D is in control, and not us. Follow the leading of G-D through His teaching and His Spirit, don’t try to lead G-D.
    Know G-D, Know freedom.
    No G-D, no freedom.

  • Julie

    This is a great interpretation of freedom, to envision and work towards a future. Passover means we want to remember what freedom is and work towards it. I cannot be free until my sibling is free though. Passover is a call to action. I try to donate money to groups КТО fight for freedom. There is still slavery in the world, in the third world and in the first world. Let’s talk О НАС the meaning of freedom, and let’s respond like adults with action to bring О НАС freedom.

  • Jossefperl

    To me freedom in our times should mean freedom from materialism; it means shifting our focus toward spiritual freedom where we satisfy only our minimal physical needs in order to sustain our bodies and focusing most of our efforts on becoming true human beings living in the image of our Hashem.

  • Meredith

    we like to remember that we are always in the process of ‘becoming free’, because when we allow our attention to be diverted from following HaShem, then we risk losing the freedom we have in Him, becoming enslaved to culture, ‘isms’, selfishness etc. So Pesach is the time to remember what enslavement is all О НАС, to guard against submitting to it in any form. Pesach is the time to be vigilant and look forward to becoming free and staying free in HaShem.

  • Hej

    There is no freedom whatsoever until we ‘come out of Egypt’. Egypt was the best of human thinking and civilization… even we know that “the rat race” is a frank expression of utter slavery… Israel showed the way – though only 2 made it to freedom Joshua and Caleb of the original nation- a multitude of heir children had the chance to serve God in spirit and in truth, following implicitly HaShem’s Law – until that generation died.. and they forgot ЗАЧЕМ they left Egypt…

  • Alp Nadi

    We live and think within our mind. All we are chattel’s of our self-mid by its perception capability. In order to be free, we have to be out of our mind and have to penetrate to Creators Mind. Actually what we think is in our mind and what we cannot think is at Creators Mind. However all facts are again slaves of its creator dream. Therefore we have to understand the dream of creation and the natural revival. In order to do that we have to understand the anti-reality which we may call as “Hevel” This “nothing” creates the existance of everything “Kain”. AIN (nothing) existance creates but how we can understand the rule of this “Nothing Khaos”. Khaos to Cosmos explanes the enthropy of the mass, but the most critical enegy level is “Enthtopy of Nothing”? Maximum energy at no place and zero time Khaos? It covers the creation entropy, adams, atoms,molecules, gas, H,He,O,C,Ni,Na…..Forces…The Periodic Table may include Periodic something else…The interesting think is its impossible to define “Nothing”, İf it is defined it would not be Nothing. Therefore the freedom is impossibe. If revivial continues infinately to reach to the zero point would not be possibe. How we say the possibilitiy of no-revivial which means all creation stops.(No Pesah, No Revival) Zero Point. “Nothing”.Would it be called as Freedom. Would we say everything comes from the Creators Freedom КТО only have this. If creation comes from freedom what are those ir-rational numbers and rules at universe. İf there exist rules how can say О НАС Freedom.

    Creating Everything from His Nothing ( Not Existance) Under Determined Rules. The reason of its existance is its non-existance) This is freedom. Because you can create everything from you. You are nothing, you are free…From your nothing to from your everything. Would we like this? Would we want this ? Thus, Freedom is Nothing but its existance is Everything. HAPPY פֶּסַח Pesach.

  • Poteaux

    Freedom in 2011? The question involves a point in time. As a human, to acquire self understanding and spiritual ability requires time, so the capability for personal integrity and soundness requires a future.
    Life is hard and tragic СОБЫТИЯ can take wisdom from you.
    Freedom is an ability to cleave to the Lord with all your might, and at any time, one can surrender ones will to the Lord with sincerity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Yoseph-Schreiber/100000483627021 Yoseph Schreiber

    Freedom gives value to our moral decisions. If a person has the choice of being either kind or cruel and chooses to be kind, he is reckoned as a good person. If he is coerced into being kind it has little effect on the estimation of his human worth. A slave or a subject does what is demanded of him. A free man has the ability to choose. A difference between 5771 and 2448 is that people tended to be better educated, economically better off, and healthier, as a result this widens their range of freedom. However greater government control, particularly through the police, has restricted the ability to be a criminal. In any case free will exists in all places.

  • Poteaux

    Need a slave of God have a capacity to envision a future?
    Is he not a tool in the hand of the Master?
    He does as told out of fear of punishment, or exulted awe.
    Freedom and the capacity to envision a future, to me, seem tied to ‘love of God’.
    To think more of the other than of the self requires a vision of the others future.
    Does it not?

  • Arnold Newton

    We need to distinguish physical from spiritual freedom. The animal in its natural environment enjoys
    physical freedom, though it may be threatened by a predator. In the zoo the same animal is denied
    freedom. Though it is offered safety, the animal suffers visibly.
    Jews in Egyptian slavery were denied physical freedom. The oppression and their slave mentality
    reduced the spiritual component to a near vanishing point and spiritual freedom was not yet
    a significant issue..

    Exodus marked physical liberation and the desert was the arena for developing the spiritual
    Jewish identity. The quantum leap was receiving the Torah. There were additional processes at work
    to bring О НАС the transformation into a Holy Nation ready to enter the Holy Land. It was necessary
    to purge the vestiges of spiritual corruption brought from Egypt and it took forty years and the emergence of a new generation for it to complete.

    In subsequent history, the physical and spiritual challenges co-mingled. Under the Soviets, Jews faced both threats, however mainly spiritual.

    In 2011, the principal challenge is to the Jewish spiritual identity. It is all the more threatening
    because it is subtle and camouflaged. It involves the cultural environment on the one hand and
    the resilience of the Jewish identity, on the other. There is little we can do О НАС the cultural
    environment. Therefore, the burden shifts to arming the Jewish soul. How do we accomplish this?
    A good topic for discussion at the Seder table.

  • Poteaux

    Perhaps love demands freedom in this world of action.

  • Elly207

    “Yiras;Hashem V’Ahavas Hashem”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Sheber/1351751423 Michael Sheber

    Freedom is the ability to challange your own beliefs!

  • Dott Marco Cosimi

    La libertà è la possibilità che ogni figlio possa avere di abbracciare i suoi genitori e ritrovare l’amore ed il calore che lo unisce al suo popolo ed al mondo. Un mondo fatto di pace.

    Freedom is the possibility that each child would have to embrace his parents and find love and warmth that binds him to his people and the world. A world of peace.

  • Lcoffin

    True freedom only comes from the heart. We can be badly treated in a prison and still be free in spirit. thanks for your good words, Pastor Larry Coffin

  • Chaya Gross

    Freedom goes hand in hand with humility. In order to be free the prerequisite is the understanding that there is a Divine Plan and freedom is what allows us to find our place within it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Abrahao-Israel-Pitkowski/100001537729887 Abrahao Israel Pitkowski

    Queridos amigos.
    É, o tema da liberdade para o homem sempre causou tremenda preocupação, isto, porque na maioria das vezes, ele tem se auto aprisionado com os seus próprios pensamentos, quando ele exterioriza-o.
    Em matéria de pensamento filosófico sobre a liberdade, nós caminhamos a passos de preguiça, porque acostumamos com as pequenas prisões feitas por nós mesmos quando acostumamos e/ou nos viciamos em algo.
    Por incrível que pareça vale lembrar o que pensava um santo bem famoso dos Cristãos, Santo Agostinho (354/430 d.c.) que, caracterizou o homem como social por natureza e anti social por vício. (De Civitate Dei, XII, 27 ) afirma no final do mundo antigo, nas suas confissões ( X, 27 , 38 ) em hino célebre, que Deus está dentro do homem.

  • Richard

    We are not ‘free’ and never can be as ‘adam’ for we are subject to a Greater Power, and that is as it should be. We have only two freedoms – either to accept and glorify in our position as citizens of HASHEM’s realm with all the benefits and duties of that citizenship; or we can become ‘outlaws’ КТО make our own rules in our personal societies and muddle through on our own.

    The external manifestations of physical and political ‘freedoms’ really mean nothing in a spiritual sense. I am not ‘free’ in the sense that I can dictate how my body works (I am dying of a terminal illness and have now little time for philosophical nicities), but I can choose to be resentful and jealous of others in good health КТО I see abusing that ‘gift’, or I can accept that this is where I’m situated and make the best of it. I’ve chosen the latter. It has been a big decision for us to drive the 20 miles to attend a communal Pasach tonight – we live in far North Queensland, Australia – for I know that driving is going to cost me physically and I cannot afford the medications that keep me alive now (in a physical sense) but, and it’s a big but, I feel that as this may well be my last Pasach, I should attend. At least I have the freedom to make such decisions. Love to you all, Richard & Jennifer
    (Rafael ben Serai & Jemin-Ruth ben Serai – our ‘Jewish’ names)

  • Marlies

    The fact that money keeps you from living longer is bitter, especially since others seem to do foolish and criminal things with the money they have. I wish you peace, Rafael, you are a wise man.

  • Richard

    Thank you Marlies,
    I don’t think I deserve your compliment that I am ‘a wise man’. We have just come back from the communal Pasach in Cairns, I’m writing this at 1.00 am, Tuesday our time – we were driven in by an Israeli couple КТО live nearby, I guess they took pity upon the old folk (my wife and I are post 60, but not by much)). Yes, we live on an Australian Disability pension which pays О НАС $A520 pw and pay half of that in rent. Our ‘freedom’ is to live in a tropical rain-forest (jungle) and to ‘preach’ within our limited means, what it is to be faithful to HASHEM regardless of our circumstances.

    I, like 60% of Australian Jewry, am descended from Shoah survivors and although I’m now facing death [had an op recently that drained off fluid from my gut, lost 8 kilos (18 pounds?) in 3 hours as my internal organs were leaking] and although I am 5’10″ I weigh 66 kilos (140 lbs?), HASHEM has seen fit to allow me to keep my mind functioning and I translate and teach Torah and the articles of the Faith to both Jews and Christians (to КТОm I teach the Noahide Laws). That is my freedom and whatever political situation I was in, I would do he same. This is ЗАЧЕМ I said earlier that ‘freedom’ has nothing to do with politics or ‘sitz-im-leben’.

    with love and blessings,
    Richard (Rafael)

  • Royal18

    And so it came to pass on that first Seder night in the year 2016, as every man looked with bewilderment and fear into the abyss that resulted from the orgy of self-sacrifice preached from every pulpit and peddled by every politician, a fifth question was asked-

    “КТО is John Galt? And the answer sprang forth: “This is John Galt speaking. I am the man КТО loves his life. I am the man КТО does not sacrifice his life or his values.”

  • Marlies

    Hear, hear.

  • Djschwed

    Freedom to me is the realization that no matter my circumstance I have a choice at how I meet it mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

  • Poteaux

    As with Jacob’s love for Rachel demanded such freedom of action, also so, does the return to his brother. And I find that comforting. Thanks.

  • Br7mrg

    Margaretha FitzGerald: Freedom is global not just humans that are alive & well financially. Once you have achieved freedom of mind, body, & soul, freedom for me is getting up, taking care of whatever responsibilities there are to be dealt with. What is left of the day is freedom.

  • Poteaux

    Freedom comes with the destruction of the Catholic wolves.
    From a good tree, comes good fruit;
    from a bad tree, comes bad fruit.
    Cut the tree down, and save our children!

  • Poteaux

    Freedom of the mind is when you can’t be shamed into handing your children over to the sexual predators of the Catholic Church.
    Cowardice is as cowardice does.

  • Gary Lee Parker

    “To be free is to see new truths emerging in the chaos, to see the Spirit of God hovering over the chaos.”-Jean Vanier”Becoming Human”

  • David Schwed

    Freedom is the knowledge that no matter our circumstances we have a choice as to the personal attitude we bring to our every day.

  • Jimmie

    Discovering the meaning of freedom in 2011 must depend for Torah conscious and committed people on what this always-up-to-date source reveals to us О НАС the ORIGIN of freedom and its consequences, most importantly at this season, the commemoration of the Exodus of Hashem’s people Israel from the slavery and oppression of Egypt by many signs, wonders, and miracles. For there would seem to be a profound connection between the BEGINNING of freedom in the Torah and the nature of it in the PRESENT 2011 year on the secular calendar. While the pertinent texts in Bereishit are variously interpreted, when man was created in the image of his Creator and received the Neshama he acquired self-awareness (i.e. intellect) and freewill, moral and ethical capacity, and emotional life. With freewill came freedom which is a situation or state in which we are not hindered, restricted, or constrained while attempting to exercise our freewill in making choices and decisions. True freedom according to the Torah involves freedom of mind and action (or doing); and man has throughout history possessed both. As the Torah states in Bereishit 11, “And now, should it not be withheld from them all they proposed (mind) to do (action)?” Further support for this view is shown in Bereishit 6 where Hashem declares, “every PRODUCT (action) of the THOUGHTS (mind) of his heart was but EVIL always.” This last word in the text appears early on in the 3rd Chapter as the opposite to the word GOOD, the primary adjective for the finished creation. The word “evil” appears more specifically in the mysterious phrase “The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”. In this same area of the text, Hashem states that Man has become highly unique in that he alone among the terrestrial creatures has the knowledge of good and evil. It is difficult to read the first 11 chapters of Bereishit and not reach the conclusion on the pshat level that “evil” and “The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” refer to thought and action choices that are OPPOSED to the fundamental principles of creation as originally given by the Creator. These “anti-creation” principles are available to us BECAUSE we are made in G-d’s image possessing freewill and therefore freedom of mind and action! HOWEVER, the NEGATIVE consequence of all this was man’s use of his freedom to pursue just that: principles and knowledge CONTRARY to those of the Creator which led to violence, robbery, perversion of the creation, and slavery, all of these as a means of acquiring what Bereishit 3 describes as ultimate wisdom, power, and wealth. Ironically then, it was the gift of freedom to all mankind in the first place that led to the necessity of the Exodus at Pesach by the Creator’s wonders and miracles! Moreover, the unique connection of the origin of freedom to the present time in 2011 is the fact that Man CONTINUES in an effort to acquire ultimate wisdom and knowledge (primarily О НАС the Universe) as well as POWER and WEALTH by using principles contrary to those of the Creator, the “Knowledge of Good and Evil” as it were. Clearly the teaching of the Torah is very up-to-date in this regard as it perfectly describes in its first few chapters the CURRENT 2011 objective of most nations in the global community! All of this, however, has lead to less freedom for everyone and in spite of the tendency toward democratization and free market principles in the world community, simply because our actions have had real and devastating consequences for stable societies and the biosphere that we depend on for our survival. Freedom in 2011 must it would seem involve the concept of Tikkun Olam, the repair of the world, by encouraging all peoples everywhere to return to at least the more basic principles of the creation that Hashem has allowed us to know in order to bring TRUE freedom that can only come from the application of his Wisdom as Master of Creation; from this standpoint the Torah is preeminent. In pursuing this approach to acquiring freedom we must truly embrace the fact that as created beings we can never achieve ABSOLUTE freedom for such an idea is incompatible with Hashem as Almighty and leads us down the path to idolatry.

  • Poteaux

    Thank you Jimmie. Your writing helps me to remember that Hashem watches over us. Freedom, it seems, also presents the ability to learn from our mistakes.

  • Poteaux

    I am glad that this question was posed because it has forced me to consider my liberties. I have been struggling with the idea of freedom and slavery for many years and for personal reasons.
    Jimmie says that absolute freedom is not compatible with Hashem as All Mighty, and I agree. Today I was able to take a liberty. Possibly it’s that I was able to do what is mine to do.
    This morning I stumped an arrogant big city judge on live public radio, and I did it with what I learned from Rabbi Adin’s teaching. I did not do it for egotistical reasons, they only heard my first name, I did it for truth as I understand it. The glory is Gods, the pleasure was mine.

  • Poteaux

    Hashem as All Mighty controls the balance of power. Amen, Amen.

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