Two hours before Pesach one’s thoughts run to some of the basic themes, particularly the idea of freedom. The sources point out that this is to do with freedom from the evil inclination. It is not a political freedom from oppression or denial of one’s rights to vote, live or marry a neighbour’s pet beluga whale. But if freedom is supposedly doing what one wishes to do, how can one be free if one wishes to do bad and follow the evil inclination? Surely freedom means the removal of all fetters and obstructions? Yet our sages clearly refer to freedom from the unleavened, which is the evil inclination.
If we follow our appetites and desires then we are simply slaves to them. If we choose not to follow them we become free from them. That is the only freedom we are allowed, which according to modern, western, democratic, human rights culture is not freedom at all.
Yet if you think about it a little deeper, what are the consequences of following one’s desires and appetites? One belongs to them; one is defined by them. A person becomes a glutton, jealous, envious, power or control hungry if he chooses his desires. He does not become free. He descends into a morass of his own appetites and wallows through life addicted to the patterns he has established sand entrenched within. I hate someone. I choose to hate him. He may not be the sort of person that is easy to love or even like. What do I become? Filled with hate. My hate grows because that is the consequence of hating. My ability to stop hating diminishes. The more I hate the more I become dominated by hatred and the harder it becomes to rid myself of hatred. I become a slave to all my negative behaviour. Do not tell me what to do I cry. Yet what does a person become other than the victim imprisoned by his own free choices?
Pesach is spiritual freedom. But, unfortunately for those of you who do not like this, God is not a democrat. He dictates what is right and wrong. So our freedom is the freedom to choose to become a slave to God. Nevertheless it is worth celebrating. It may encompass a narrow transfer from one slavery to another, but the true freedom is true liberation, irrespective of the political climate or the current mores.
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