Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Passover: A Holiday of Freedom

According to the Old Testament, after the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt for four hundred years, God heard their cries and redeemed them. Much can be learned from the story of the Exodus. But, I'd like to focus on something that can be meaningful to all people.

What does the word "freedom" mean?

Ask many people and they'd tell you that being free means that you can do whatever you want to do. If you want to sleep all day you should be free to do just that. If you want to say something you should be free to do so, regardless of what you say.

The problem with looking at freedom in this way is that one does not consider the relationship between actions and fulfillment. One does not recognize the absolute importance of being fulfilled if they believe that being free means that one can do whatever one wants whenever he wants.

The Old Testament reports that exactly seven weeks after leaving Egypt, the Hebrews arrived at Mt. Sinai where God revealed the Ten Commandments. Is it odd that exactly seven weeks after becoming "free" the Hebrews are told that they must follow certain specific laws?

I don't think that this is odd at all.

Too much freedom is debilitating. When people are completely free to do whatever they want it's easy to become paralyzed and do nothing. (Just think of a day gone by when rather than completing what you wanted to, you lounged and relaxed.) It's easy to alienate other people so that it becomes impossible to maintain any meaningful relationships. (Just consider the husband who violates the norms of marriage and sleeps around. What kind of relationship does he have with any of the women with whom he sleeps? What kind of a relationship does he have with himself?)

What does this mean for the classroom?

1 comment:

  1. I think it's one thing to be told you must follow certain laws, and rather something else to decide as a community what laws you want to follow, and to change those laws if they're not working out. Most people associate freedom with the latter, and not the former.