Freedom is defined as the power or right to act, speak or think as one wants whilst having immunity from obligation. This definition permits one to be free from shared responsibility whilst prioritising an individual’s power.
Judaism views freedom differently to that of secular society, where there is a shift from considering individual desires to connecting to responsibility and a widening of perspectives.
Rabbi Yaakov Sinclair, in his essay “The True Meaning of Freedom” discusses that in the Pesach story Egypt is the ultimate constraint and the escape is represented as the truest form of freedom. In contradiction with Western Society’s
view of freedom, this form of freedom incorporates responsibility as without purpose there can be no liberation.
In order to attain freedom in Judaism, it is suggested that one needs to balance physical and spiritual responsibilities, specifically the tangible and intangible. This is valorised by the fact that Judaism is a religion that focuses on everything in
moderation and balance.
This balance is maintained in Exodus 3:12
“when you take the people out of Egypt, you will serve God on this mountain”.
This description perfectly describes Judaism’s view on balancing both needs as the people were free as their physical needs were taken into consideration with serving God’s spirituality and thus the people of the time were free.
Additionally, in a Pesach message by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks he discusses the importance of balance by dividing freedom into chofesh ‘freedom from’ and cheirut ‘freedom towards’. He describes chofesh as freedom from a negative restriction
when one is no longer oppressed for example Pesach where people were freed from the physical slavery and oppression. Rabbi Sacks asserts that one cannot just rely on chofesh to be free and has to include cheirut freedom concurrently to truly be
In saying this, may we continue to be free and uphold our responsibilities to continue to protect and enhance the world!