What is freedom?
Passover does not merely commemorate the emancipation of ancient Jewish slaves from Egypt. The "Festival of Liberation" reminds us what true freedom is, and how we each, in 2011, can achieve this freedom.
Harmonious and total freedom can obviously not be achieved in a life where the soul, which is truly a part of G-d, would be subordinated to the bod, nor with body and soul secondary to the material world. The superior cannot serve the inferior and be content!
True freedom can be attained only when the soul, the body, and the surrounding world complete each other, the lower elements of body and environment elevated to the highest possible affinity with the soul and its aspiration, and the soul liberated from everything that hinders her fulfillment.
The exodus reflects precisely this. In Egypt, we experienced all-encompassing slavery. Worn down spiritually in a country renowned for moral depravity, our bodies were tortured with extreme physical labor, and we did not even get paid, thus denied our share of the material.
Our liberation, likewise, was complete. Beginning with spiritual liberation, we openly demonstrated the nothingness of the Egyptian deity by offering up the Paschal Lamp. We marched out of Egypt with a "high hand," physically jubilant, and as for our share of material wealth, out we went "with great substance."
Now, in our quest for freedom, we need to maintain a perfect synergy between our body, soul, and dealings with others. It is not enough to immerse oneself in the spiritual worlds of study and prayer, only to later serve as a slave to base bodily desires. Nor can we neglect our physical well-being in pursuit of spirituality. Just as binding is to ignore those around you, or to only worry about the welfare of peers, while one's soul remains captive to its surroundings.
A Jew is reminded daily: You are free, liberated in soul and in body; and this personal liberation makes it possible to convert the substance of your surroundings into a Jewish substance of great and infinite potential!
As each of us achieves freedom this Passover, may we be blessed with freedom for mankind with the coming of Moshiach!
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