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Women's Corner

We Have Freedom But Are We Really Free?

Rabbanith Ruth Menashe, 'a"h
Friday, April 22, 2016/Nisan 14, 5776

We spoke about one of the important messages of the holiday of פסח Pesah, which is called חג החרות (Hagh HaHeruth - the holiday of freedom) and the meaning of true freedom.

The question is, what happened to our freedom? What happened to our ability to do things, not because the other person does it, not because it’s accepted, but because we believe that this is the right thing to do. Regarding Mah Nishtanah which we read every Pesah, Hakham Yosef Hayyim, 'a"h, comments about the question of  שבכל הלילות אנחנו אוכלין שאר ירקות, on all the other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables, but tonight we only eat מרור "bitter herbs". He says the night is Galuth (exile). In all the other exiles that we had before, we ate שאר ירקות "other vegetables", meaning that we were involved in many things. But הלילה הזה "on this night", in this exile, כולו מרור "we only eat bitter herbs". He says that "bitter herbs" refers to chasing after money.

Over 150 years ago, the Ben Ish Hai said, "Today (meaning over 150 years ago)," everybody just chases after money and this money is like מרור "bitter herbs", because it makes our life bitter. He mentions that in the previous exiles, people also ran after the pleasures of this world, somewhat, but at the same time, also thought about what the real meaning of life was. In this, the final exile, he adds, we are only interested in the pleasures of this world.

There are many other things that we are slaves to. Fashion is but one example. Aren’t we all slaves to fashion? For instance, why is it that every year or two, people have to change the frame of their glasses? One year frameless glasses are in fashion so everybody has frameless glasses. Two years later, the glasses which are in fashion are ones with large frames. Why? What is the purpose of having glasses? To see! So why do we have to be so affected by what fashion dictates?

We really become free when we are able to make a free choice, not because I’m scared of what other people are going to say about me. Not because that’s what the society around me does and because I am concerned what they will say if I decide to wear old fashioned glasses or carry an old fashioned phone. If I can make choices devoid of those concerns, that’s when I really become a free person.

We must remember that we were created בצלם אלוקים (in the image of G-d). Hashem breathed into every single one of us, our holy Neshama, our soul. This is the most important part of who we are. Our goal is to be connected and try to emulate G-d, but not to be connected to all the fashions of the world. That’s not what we're here for. He breathed into us our Neshama so we have to always remind ourselves, and this is a constant fight, that we are here to follow in the footsteps of הקדוש ברוך הוא, the holy One blessed be He, and to fulfill His will and do what He wants from us.

This is something of extreme importance that we have to keep in mind. We have to remember that what makes us free people is being able to follow the laws of the Torah and not being enslaved to society.

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