Monday night, Pesah begins and we celebrate freedom! Freedom from Egypt, from slavery, from Pharaoh. Freedom to journey to Israel. Freedom to embrace Judaism. Freedom to make your own choices….Kind of.
Albert Camus wrote: “Freedom is dangerous; it is as difficult as it is exasperating.”
We simply need to turn to the turmoil in modern day Egypt and the greater Middle East to see the wisdom in Camus’ words. A few weeks ago, as Mubarak was tossed out of power, headlines proclaimed that Pharaoh was defeated once again. Freedom! Freedom? The violence in Tahrir Square has begun again. Egypt’s future is uncertain. Groups are struggling for power. Mubarak is gone. The tyranny is over. But what will replace it? Freedom is dangerous.
After leaving Egypt, our ancestors wandered in the desert. They desperately needed guidance and direction – which they would find at Mount Sinai. Here, they received the Torah – the rules and laws that have created the foundation of the Jewish community. Without these rules and laws, without the structure of the Jewish community – the total and complete freedom we experienced after Egypt might very well have been our downfall.
Monday night, we celebrate freedom. And when we do so, let us remember that absolute freedom is anarchy. The freedom we all cherish is freedom with limits, boundaries and self-restraint. This Pesah, as we gather to celebrate the exodus of our ancestors from Egypt, let us give thanks for the fact that we have the freedom to live in a country with rules that limit our freedom for the benefit of the common good. Freedom is wonderful. Absolute freedom is dangerous. Freedom within the confines of a democratic society governed by laws is a blessing.