The rabbi who led it conducted a discussion, not a lecture, which he began by summarizing the story Chazal (our sages) say that before birth we have all the knowledge possible about Torah and Judaism, but as we're being born an angel kisses us and seals it or removes it. Then he asked us for our personal opinions about Passover and חרות Cherut, Freedom. Yes, he defined it as "freedom." Now that bothered me a lot. By defining חרות Cherut as Freedom, he was giving חרות Cherut a meaning, which it may not really have.
|Israel's old Right newspaper had been called חרות|
I don't see any "freedom" in the way we celebrate and prepare for Passover. Actually it's the opposite. The way most of us prepare is so anti-Freedom, so pathologically OCD, it drives people from religion.
That's why I insisted on getting to the root of חרות. That brought me to what to me is the most crucial and important line in the entire Passover Hagaddah:
עבדים היינו לפרעה במצרים עתה עתה בני חוריןIt's the statement that expresses opposite status. "Avodim liparoh bamitzrayim" versus "bnai chorin." which is commonly translated as "slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt" versus "free." Pretty much everybody stresses the "slavery" part and then gives the opposite of slavery as freedom, but I keep thinking, yes for years, that the crucial aspect of this is not the economic slavery but the fact that we had to obey the whims of the Egyptian leader and the opposite "bnai chorin" would mean that we now must obey Gd.
Avodim hayinu liparoh bamitzrayim; atta bnai chorinWe were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt ; now we are "free?"
This would take the entire story someplace else and not at all to "freedom" as commonly depicted. This brings us to the Torah and Gd's commandments. It makes more sense and then all the kitchen cleaning and special ways of cooking mean that instead of the readily available food (chametz) given to the Jewish slaves by Pharaoh, we Jews have to rid ourselves and our homes of that and eat the food Gd commands us to eat and prepare. In the Wilderness when transitioning between slavery in Egypt and building a new Jewish society in the HolyLand, after we prepared the quick matzot, spelled like Mitzvot, Gd gave us the mahn.
Passover is not a matter of slavery versus freedom at all! Passover is the transition from following man's law to following G'd's Laws.
It took me a whole night of sleep for this to jell or "leaven." What do you think?
Here's the Atara Snowbell response to the question: Guest Post by Atara Snowbell on חרות Herut