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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 8, 2004 / 17 Nissan, 5764

Passover: The freedom to serve

By Rabbi Yonason Goldson


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http://www.jewishworldreview.com | "This year we are here, next year in Jerusalem! This year we are slaves, next year — free people!"


Thus begins the central observance of the Passover seder — the maggid — the narrative of the Jewish people's exodus from Egypt. And so it would seem that herein lies the essence of the evening and of the holiday: our national transformation from servitude to freedom.


Indeed, contemporary culture recognizes no loftier ideal than freedom, no more contemptible degradation than slavery. And yet, when Jacob looked with trepidation at the beginnings of exile as he prepares to lead his family down into Egypt, the Almighty reassured him with the words, "al tiroh avdi Yaakov — Do not fear, My servant Jacob." The sages observe that only ten were called by G-d, "My servant," and that there is no greater accolade than to be considered a servant of the Divine.


How can this be? We were servants to Pharaoh in Egypt, and on Passover we celebrate freedom. If freedom is our goal, why is My servant the highest praise with which Jacob and the other luminaries of Jewish tradition can be lauded?


The answer is really self-evident. To serve a higher goal, a higher purpose, or a higher ideal is not servitude at all. It is rather to connect with something greater than oneself and, thereby, to become greater in the process.


On the gate to Harvard Yard these words from university president Charles William Eliot were inscribed over a century ago: Enter to grow in wisdom. Depart better to serve thy country and mankind. One can only hope the message is still heeded. In the language of biblical Hebrew, there is no distinction between service and servitude except the context in which they are used. We were slaves to Pharaoh because we had no choice, because the whips and rods of Pharaoh's taskmasters bloodied our backs and crippled our bodies if we slackened in our labor. But freedom from Pharaoh gave us the opportunity to enter freely into the service of heaven, to accept upon ourselves the yoke of the Torah and its commandments in devotion to a higher purpose and in pursuit of spiritual fulfillment.


But even so, Pharaoh's army drowned in the waters of the Sea of Reeds 3,316 years ago. How are the words of the Haggadah, this year we are slaves, still relevant after so many generations?

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Freedom is not a goal; it is an opportunity — and freedom misused often results in slavery. Is the chain smoker addicted to nicotine truly free? Is the alcoholic who cannot give up his drink or the workaholic who cannot relax from his business truly free? And what of the status seeker who worships designer labels and fancy cars; the teenager who worships the false god of cool; the couch potato who worships his soda and his chips and his remote control; or the anorexic who worships her skeletal reflection in the mirror and imagines herself a goddess — is any one of them truly free?


Finally, what of the cosmopolitan, the progressive, the enlightened thinker who has cast off what he believes to be the shackles of tradition in favor of the values of modern society, the rational humanist who believes himself to be the better judge of morals and ethics than the eternal transmission of his own heritage? Is he truly free, or has he not in fact allowed himself to become the unwitting slave of yet another master?


This year we have been slaves — slaves to our prejudices and biases, slaves to our own impulses and egos, slaves to the expectations of the culture that surrounds us. But Pesach reminds us that we are as free as we choose to be, that we alone hold the keys to the chains that hold us back from acquiring the most precious gift of all — a closer relationship with the ultimate Master.

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JWR contributor Rabbi Yonason Goldson teaches at Block Yeshiva High School and Aish HaTorah in St. Louis. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2004, Rabbi Yonason Goldson