We now enter into a time period referred to as ‘Zman Cheruteinu’ / ‘ The Time of Our Freedom’…..
What is this freedom all about?
I bring you a few of my personal explorations from years gone by, centered around the theme, ‘Freedom’….I beg your indulgence…it’s sort of a hodge podge collection…..Following a summary of a teaching on the topic by the Slonim Rebbe from his work, ‘Netivot Shalom’ and another Freedom Recipe selection from an old booklet of mine called Parsha Tools, I bring something different —– a selection called ‘Regarding Freedom’, which is a shooting from the hip, spontaneous , politically incorrect stream of thought expression of what I understand is the uniquely Jewish attitude to what freedom is—namely a type of freedom based on slavery…..
1.Pesach ESSAY SUMMARY
From the sefer ‘NETIVOT SHALOM’
‘Zman Cherutenu’ / ‘Time of our freedom’ A 1.The name "the time of our freedom" given to Pesach by the men of the great assembly when they coined (nusach) the holiday prayers points out the essence of the holiday. 2. It is clear that the concept of the time of our freedom is not coming to teach us what happened once upon a time in history alone but rather it is also teaching us what is happening to us at this time of year now. Similarly the terms "the time of our happiness" (Succos) and "the time of our receiving of the torah" (Shavuos) point to what is also happening at that time of year. 3. Both then and now there exists both physical and spiritual bondage which we are released from to eternal freedom. It is taught that 30 days before Pesach Hashem releases the souls that fell into the sitra achra and redeems them into the realm of the Kedusha. 4. As long as a man is not free he is not able to receive the torah therefore the first of the year's series of holidays is the freedom holyday of Pesach which only afterward is followed by Shavuos the time of our receiving of Torah. B 1.Questions; What is so outstanding about what is written in the Haggada that if Hashem didn't take us out of Egypt we and our children would still be subjugated to Paro in Egypt, anyway we are subjugated to other nations such as Edom to this very day ? What's the meaning of the statement that if Hashem wouldn't have taken us out of Egypt we would still be subjugated etc... Surely we see that H' promised to Avraham Avinu that He would take us out? Why is the word meshuabad i.e. subjugated stressed so much? 2. The meaning of the concept meshuabad (subjugated) is that the Jewish people were totally subjugated with no independence even in their thinking process. Therefore Egypt was called the house of Slavery the place where people turned into slaves. This is illustrated by the midrash giving the following analogy just as a fetus in its mother's stomach has no independence or influence so too the Jewish people in Egypt. This is the difference between the other exiles and the Egyptian exile; in all other exiles the subjugating power were stronger than us and would oppress us. In the Egyptian exile the Egyptians so totally subjugated us that we weren't even able to know what to think and how to think. 3. For most of the 210 years exile the Jews were so totally subjugated that we couldn't even scream in painful protest. The beginning of the redemption process was ushered in by our ability to wordlessly scream. 4. The Jews were sunk in 49 gates of Tumah. This is not because the Egyptians forced us to do as they do or to violate our religion but rather this state of affairs bespeaks the very reality of being subjugated totally to the lowliest society on earth. 5. "Hashem saw the pressure that the Egyptians were pressurizing them" means that they had no control over their thought process nor over their speech rather all their essence was subjugated. 6. Moshe Rabbenu's soul was a composite soul of the entire Jewish people he reflected their state. Just as they were unable to express themselves with proper speech so too was he afflicted in his speech. When the Jewish people went out of Egypt and their mouths were opened up to speak properly so too Moshe Rabbenu from then on was able to speak properly. Therefore one of the main ideas of the Passover redemption is expressed in the Hebrew word ‘Pesach’ the mouth speaks. C 1.The Jewish people were all subjugated in the Egyptian exile on many levels. Even the tribe of Levy who weren't slaves physically nevertheless were subjugated emotionally. 2. The question is why does our sages stress that if Hashem Himself and not an angel didn't take us out of Egypt we would still be enslaved until this very day. Based on the fact that we were so subjugated that even our nefesh, ruach and neshama were enslaved therefore anything short of total Divine redemption would leave us enslave on fine subtle soul levels until this very day. 3. The tefilin of the hand is the antithesis of our lusting heart being subjugated to the Egyptians. Instead of subjugating our hearts to Egypt we subjugate it to Hashem. So too the head tefilin redirects the subjugation of our thoughts from Egyptian thinking to G-dly thinking. This is the meaning of Hashem himself and not an angel or a messenger taking us out of Egypt i.e. we are now able to redirect our subjugation to Him. This is also the meaning of the idea of being redeemed with "a strong hand" i.e. the power to cut off our subjugation to them and to redirect it to Hashem. D 1. The holiday of our freedom applies to every individual in every generation. Generally speaking what distinguishes a Jew is that his essence is subjugated to Hashem even though his evil inclination trips him up sometimes. However sometimes a person can become totally subjugated in certain areas and he will stumble continuously. Examples of this are as follows. a. In the area of character traits b. Foreign non-Jewish thought outlooks c. Environmental subjugation d. Domestic subjugation All of these are types of subjugation to Paro in Egypt. 2. King David prayed to be freed from this kind of subjugation (psalm 142). The segula of Pesach is for the individual to be freed from these various subjugations. E 1. Hashem engineered the geula by blinding the forces of evil with a very intense light that shone in all of its intensity at once. The reason Hashem did this was to prevent the Egyptian forces of evil from having any grasp especially being that the Jews were sunk in 49 gates of tuma. Therefore a gradually increasing divine light or influx would not have been enough. The same phenomenon occurs every Shabbos. 2. This is also the means for a hard working individual who cannot overcome his personal subjugations with small gradual steps and resolutions instead he should strike out and make giant steps and giant resolutions. 3.This also explains why Pesach is a preparation for the Shavuos holiday of receiving the Torah. Until a person jumps beyond himself and frees himself from his personal enslavement with giant resolutions he will not be in control of himself enough to receive the ultimate resolution of Torah. Therefore Pesach leaves an impression of liberating himself with major resolutions enabling him to receive the Torah 50 days later. F 1.The reason why all holidays and shabbatot recall the coming out of Egypt is because the purpose of all the holidays is to free oneself from the yetser hara which is called mitsraim. 2. The period of time from Pesach until Shavuos is one long single holiday. Everyday is a new unit of freedom until finally on Shavuos there is total freedom. Our sages say the only truly free person is one who is involved in Torah learning for he is the one who nullify himself i.e. all that gets-in-the-way of his total freedom. The Zohar brings the one who eats the bread of health (matza) on Pesach and receives the health of Torah on Shavuos is exempt from being judged on Rosh Hashanah. 3. Sometimes it happens that a Jew can achieve high spiritual levels and yet be subjugated to the tuma levels that characterize Egypt. The way to release oneself from that situation is hinted at in the midrashs mentioning of the blood of Pesach and the blood of brith mila. These blood purifications represent respectively Emuna and Kedusha. These two elements internalized by a Jew who is working on himself concertedly can free him. 4. The days of sfiras haOmer are compared to a long Chol Hamoed of Pesach in that one achieves freedom totally. This happens through one's uprooting of his tuma and of his purifying and sanctifying himself.
2. (Parsha Tools # 25) ‘THE-PESACH-GET-YOURSELF-FREE-FORMULA’
‘…AS IF I LEFT EGYPT…’
1. ‘…And please give us, Hashem…this Holiday of Matzohs…the time of our freedom’ [ Holiday Siddur]. Every Holiday in the Jewish calendar has a central theme. The last of the prophets who made up the ‘Men of the Great Assembly’, put together a good part of the ritual service we have in our daily and Holiday prayers. We’re informed by the words of the main-theme prayer that the essence of Pesach is that it’s ‘the time of our freedom’ [just as Shavuot is ‘the time of the giving of our Torah’ and Sukkot is the ‘time of our happiness’]. If I properly use this auspicious time, I can inoculate myself with my annual dose of freedom. Freedom’s in the air…it’s there for the taking. But how do I access it? Well, perhaps a direct way, is to make a list of all areas, major and minor, of my life in which I feel myself to be a slave. Next, I’d project into the future–Pesach, one year from now–and see myself as a gloriously free person, liberated from all of my personal slavery. I’d project how I achieved such a lofty goal and then I’d come back to the present and start to go for it! Not a bad plan, if you don’t mind me saying so…but I’d like to add a very important dimension; Our Passover Haggada brings a quote from our sages, that says that every person should see themself as if they personally left Egypt. We can understand from this that the key to understanding how to break out of our personal Egyptian slavery, is to learn how our ancestors did it–get the formula, and apply it in our lives.
THE 5-STEPS OF THE EGYPTIAN EXODUS
2. Let’s present a very brief survey of the elements that make up the Egyptian Redemption;
a. ‘SHIABUD’ [TOTAL AND ABSOLUTE ENSLAVEMENT OF BODY AND SOUL]— Our Sages brought an analogy comparing this initial phase in Egypt to that of a fetus of a calf in it’s mother’s womb. Like the fetus, our ancestors were so enveloped in the Egyptian experience that it didn’t even occur to them to groan and cry out to Hashem for the first 209 years out of their 210 year exile! But alas they did finally become conscious that they were enslaved in a terrible exile.
b. GROANS AND SCREAMS —Their awareness of their predicament brought out from a deep gut level, wordless groans and screams. Hashem heard them and actively initiated the redemption process.
c. THE OVERPOWERING DIVINE LIGHT—When the time came to leave Egypt, G-d caused to shine an incredibly powerful providential light into the atmosphere of Egypt and inside of these slaves’ consciousness. On the strength of that light, an entire nation LEAPED out of Egypt. They did so suddenly, not even waiting for their dough to rise and transform their Matzohs into Bread for the long journey. This stage is compared in a certain Chassidic work by R. Yitzchak Issack of Homil, to a young student who is dazzled and swept off his feet by the brilliance of his new righteous and amazing teacher. He has awe and behaves with total self-nullification towards his new spiritual master. The student however doesn’t yet have the ability to understand or internalize the teachings. He just says to himself,’ Wow’, and remains respectfully silent. Nevertheless, an impression is etched deep in his soul.
d. LOSING THE ‘LIGHT’ AND RECOVERING IT INCREMENTALLY—This slave nation, the children of Israel, managed, with this incredible G-d given light power and purity, to temporarily transcend their spiritual sickness of being steeped in all 49 gates of Teuma [impurity], long enough to escape out of Egypt. But as fast as they gained their instant light power, they lost it. But the impression it left deep in their souls would serve as a guiding light at the end of the tunnel constantly drawing them to recover it. In order for them to truly recover and internalize this power of soul-based and Faith-based expanded G-d consciousness, they needed to get it back slowly, deliberately and 1 step at a time. The root-causes of their exile…ie… their spiritual perfection process, now had to be examined and rectified. This Tikun process is what we do annually for the 50 days between Pesach and Shavuot. This is the counting and internalizing of the Holy Sefirot of the ‘Omer’ period. This stage is compared to our young student who matures to the point of not being just satisfied with sitting in his master’s presence in quiet awe. Rather, he seeks to understand the source of the wisdom that his teacher possesses. He engages his teacher in constant discussion, and is bold enough even to argue with him until he can figure it all out for himself!!
e. ‘SINAI’, LIVING IN THE LIGHT— The culminating historical element in the Egyptian redemption process happens with the nation’s receiving of the Torah at Sinai. The pure-G-dly-soulful-expanded-consciousness level is now fully and eternally acquired. This stage is compared to our student’s reaching a level, where he’s no longer in need of his teacher’s wisdom. He gets it on his own straight from Hashem. He sees the wisdom in every aspect of reality. He is no longer the student. He is now the master!
3. Now we’re ready for our Parsha Tool…for our freedom formula:
a. Be aware of your personal Egypts–large and small. Let your mind recall all your revealed and repressed enslavements…mark them down. You’ll probably be amazed how much there is repressed inside of yourself….
b. Now begin to process them—First groan about them and then wordlessly scream with wild and emotional abandon..[if you’re in an embarrassing environment, then either take your chances and go for it, wait till your alone or do it right there, but in a silent way]…Try to get to the point of helplessness, where you truly open your heart to Hashem and beseech Him for help….
c. How do we access the overpowering instantly liberating Divine Light which is beyond our present capacities? We gave the answer at the beginning of this essay—-project a whole ‘new you’ one year from now on Pesach 5767 . You’ll be a person who enjoyed the most free and liberated year of your life. Make note of exactly how you achieved this glorious goal. Don’t forget the aspect of soul, faith, G-dliness and expanded consciousness…otherwise you never will truly escape from your inner slavery….
d. Now just go with the projected plan that you set up for yourself one step at a time….
3. Regarding freedom
at the risk of being a bit impetuous and politically incorrect , i nevertheless send to you, a group comprising a few of my favorite friends and students and teachers [ i welcome all feedback]
–a few of my latest exploratory discoveries and thoughts [mostly accessed last night in the Mikve];
1. though i consider myself to be all about freedom in the conventional sense of the word [like lower soul stuff and be here now and paradise-ing and living the life i love…etc..etc.., upon looking deeper at the type of freedom that is being taught to us by the pesach mindset–i have come up with a very different paradigm—namely ‘SLAVERY FREEDOM’
2. We were being trained as a nation of slaves of man, prior to our inception or birth as a people, to be a nation of slaves or servants of Hashem for the rest of our history–ie…learning about ‘SLAVERY FREEDOM’
3. why were we as a nation stuck for 210 years in egypt to begin with?—i think it was to grab this new kind of freedom called ‘SLAVERY FREEDOM’
4. Steven Stills [of Crosby Stills nash and young fame ] wrote—‘find the cost of freedom buried in the ground…’—whether steven knew it or not–i think that he was coming on to this thing called ‘SLAVERY FREEDOM’
5. Kabbalah teaches that freedom is represented by the sefirah of Bina…Bina also represents the Sefira of Happiness and Neshama’s source and Music and Torah
and the essential experience of Bina is to be the vessilizer or encapsulater or packager of Chochma— of free flowing shefa —ie…the Sefira that restricts or
ENSLAVES itself in order to allow unbridled Freedom to be expressed —and thereby elicit Torah and happiness and neshama and music …….ie…’SLAVERY FREEDOM’
6. ‘normal’ type of freedom usually , in my experience, usually comes with a price—ie—just to say ‘I’M FREE’—usually what happens soon afterwards , is that i get slam-dunked by some type of burden or darkness or calling—calling me out to somewhat enslave myself in order to be free as a result—the irony of ‘SLAVERY FREEDOM’
7. alot of the time, what i find is that what people seem
to seek out in terms of freedom is bordering on addictive behaviour—ie…’give me my fix of love or alcohol or drugs or unburdenedness–and i’ll be free—but without that
i can’t’—instead of surrendering or transcending or subjecting a certain part of themselves [ourselves] –through self imposed slavery of sorts—in order to avoid the
addiction—another example of ‘SLAVERY FREEDOM’
8. though some people [i’m thinking specifically of very frum/orthodox/observant
people] are certainly engulfed in all kinds of seeming self imposed service and burdens in order to access ‘SLAVERY FREEDOM’ —nevertheless, i believe that as long as what they do, they do in a shallow, external, habitual way–then they remain enslaved and not free—-UNLESS—they seek to somewhat truly enslave themselves [from their present perspective]–in order top get to their freedom —ie…true ‘SLAVERY FREEDOM’
9. the Torah teaches –that the one who is truly free, is the one who is engaged and deeply occupied with Torah learning….Torah is all about boundaries—spiritual and actual—in order to achieve fusion with Hashem and His Will —ie…’SLAVERY FREEDOM’
10. In my own experience, if I take the time and effort [ie..minimal enslavement] at the start of a new day to plan out my whole day with anh inspired ‘to do’ list, than
my day is one of paradise and freedom–a different type of ‘SLAVERY FREEDOM’
11. The Saba of Nevordik would be at his best and happiest when he was faced with the most difficult of challenges to overcome and thereby grow—‘SLAVERY FREEDOM’
12. the Slonim Rebbe –author of ‘Netivot Shalom’ teaches [in the name of his great grandfather–i think], that the key to be in a constant state of supreme Pleasure in life, is to be detached from pleasure —totally ….ie…enslave yourself to acieving the detachment and thereby achieve ‘SLAVERY FREEDOM’
13. The Tosh Rebbe [Shlit’a] teaches throughout his 2 volume work, entitled avodat Avoda—that the key to true spirituality is to restrict or enslave what you surround yourself with—-your desires and senses and your thoughts and feelings and actions—avoiding the material, physical…etc….and thereby open up the true uncluttered, unlimited spiritual access—another example of ‘SLAVERY FREEDOM’
14. alot of other Chassidic and non-Chassidic [including Chabad teachings] teach that the way to break free is to break away from ME , —ie….do what it takes [go thru the slavery that it takes to minimize ME and then let in Hashem…..another form of
15. A good friend gave me a wonderful recipe for achieving peace between myself and my wife [and for anyone else as well]years ago at a particularly hard time—he told me to convey to her that i was willing to do anything and everything for her [ie..totally enslaving myself to her burden] —-and really mean it…. a very powerful
example of ‘SLAVERY FREEDOM’
16. The Omer period is a period that is characterized by an access of 49 or 50 units of freedom [the going out of Egypt is mentioned 50 times in the Torah , and we went out of Egypt ‘CHAMUSHIM’ -ie…in a 50 unit] —the natural bridge from Pesach’s freedom access to Shavuot’s Torah access [on Shavuot we become free Torah learners]—-we do this with hard work on ourselves [slavery]—another example of
17. The Omer period is a period characterized by a rectification and refinement of our Midos or character traits—ie– to be humble to be nothings[slaves] to be totally open and respectful of others and of Hashem——and thereby free up those nasty traits that get in my way….’SLAVERY FREEDOM’
18. The Omer period is a period that is also characterized by a rectification and refinement based on the counting of the Sefirot —ie…an injection of total self expression–and i work on enslaving myself to rid myself of all thatb gets in my way of accessing this total self expression–ie…’SLAVERY FREEDOM’
19. i believe that this idea of utilizing slavery in order to get freedom is real–but is subjected to a person’s being READY for it—and if you need non-slavery freedom access–then that’s what you are ready for—therefore one needs to gauge your readiness to jump into ‘SLAVERY FREEDOM’
20. i also believe that some types of slavery-freedom-ing —may appear to be the exact opposite—such as the strategy of equinamity [it’s all then same to me] in order to achieve freedom or bitachon [i need no effort –cuz i trust that Hashem will make it happen]—but if you look deep, you’ll see that to achieve these transcendent states ,
you need a powerful degree of self boundarizing and ‘SLAVERY FREEDOM’
A SLAVERY FREEDOM RECIPE
A. choose 1 area of life /act/ feeling/thought…etc…
B. identify the slavery aspect of this factor—ie…in what way are you truly enslaved
c. draw down from ABOVE, the type of personal subjugation or slavery that you need in order to free yourself up
d. do it
e. project yourself/co-create yourself as a free person
f. do this same exercise with as many personal enslavements as possible
g. pray for it
May we be blessed to be truly free in the deepest , most essential sense of the word,
Comments are closed.