Physical Freedom is the freedom to move about a do what a person wants to do with their body or organs. A Person who is restrained by a straight-Jacket or in a jail cell has limited physical freedom.
Psychological freedom is the freedom to think freely. One can think what they want.
Emotional freedom is being in control of one’s emotions. Letting one’s brain decide what they should feel. Not their feelings decide what they should do.
Mental Freedom is not being constrained by the shackles and preconceived notions of society.
Freedom of Choice is the ability to choose the right thing to do given an ethical dilemma or situation.
Freedom of Action can only be partially attained by humans. Humans are completely dependent upon G-d. G-d is not dependent on humans. Thus the freedom of our actions are limited for we depend upon the environment, G-d’s will and other variables to attain a certain action. Only G-d has complete freedom of action. G-d does not die. Man dies. A man cannot prevent himself from dying when his time has come.
When G-d redeemed the Jews from Egypt, the Jews were given all the above freedoms, albeit in a gradual process. The Jews reached the pinnacle of freedom when they received the Torah. They even received a greater portion of Freedom of action. Our sages said that the Jews were given the opportunity to live eternally in their bodies. But the sin of the Golden calf, prevented them from attaining this freedom.
Passover allows us to attain all the above freedoms.
Most, if not all, people in the world are products of their environment.
They have notions of what is right and wrong or good and bad or proper or improper.
However many times they conduct their entire lives by accepting preconceived notions without much thought.
Here are three examples – in which people limit their freedom. Although, they might go against the grain of society, our goal is not to make people feel good about what they are doing, it is to help people use their minds to reach the ultimate good.
1. The Entertainment Industry -
Last I heard, the average American – whatever that means – watches about 5 hours of television a day, uses the computer about 1 hour a day, uses a smart phone for over an hour a day and listens to radio for more than half an hour.
Ok. Fine some is productive, like perhaps typing a letter on the computer to a friend. But how much is unproductive? Imagine the world if one dedicated those hours to helping others. Doing acts of kindness / Gemilut Hasadim to make this world a better place. The world would be a much better place – wouldn’t you think?
Imagine if they used the time to give attention to their families, their children or their spouses? Or if they learned the ethics of the Torah? A much better world would ensue. Better relationships. More meaningful friendships.
Judaism sometimes suffers from stereotyping. People think that religion = fanaticism. Many times I don’t disagree.
Many people follow religions by putting the cart before the wagon. First they say I want to live a certain lifestyle, then they choose a religion that is befitting their lifestyle. Or since their father or mother did this, I will do the same.
In some cases it makes sense – like on Passover – when millions of Jews observe the Passover Seder based upon the transmission of their ancestors and the Torah. The Torah is light years ahead of any other value system in that it was the only time in history that G-d Himself appeared to a nation of millions of eye witnesses to give the Torah at Mount Sinai about 3,300 years ago. And G-d does not change his mind about His laws.
Other religions were started by a handful of people. Many other religions, had a history of tremendous cruelty – like we saw in the inquisition, holocaust and other events, that were encouraged by religions. So is a person that follows that religion guilty by association? I don’t know. I guess one has to decide whether they feel comfortable belonging to the same group or organization of people that were guilty for mass destruction and torture.
Ultimately a person has to decide their own path.
The Torah gives Jews one path and gentiles another path to live righteously. The 613 Commandments for the Jews and the 7 Noahide laws for a Gentile. It is very clearly written, what is right and wrong. Like killing the innocent is clearly wrong according to both.
3. The Preconceived Notions –
Evolution is a respected idea in the secular world. Yet if one would think clearly, it really makes no sense. It is apparently an attempt by scientists to remove G-d from the picture. Clearly throwing sand around in a mixer for thousands (or millions) of years is not going to create a human, a plant, an animal or even the most rudimentary cells of any creature. But people swear by it. Why? Beats me.
I was party to all the preconceived notions above, but suffering woke me up to a new concept – called thinking. I am still not at the level in which, I have become a totally reflecting person. I am still swayed by emotions, preconceived notions and desires. But I hope I am a little better than I was before when TV was my “best friend.”
Now my relationships are deeper. I try to think before doing something or buying something. “Everybody is doing it” or “Every body has it” does not sway me. What does is “Is what I want to do or buy – for the ultimate good of myself, the family or the society?” The Ultimate good is in the Torah.
So now my dilemmas do not stem from knowing what is good and what is bad. That is made clear through learning Torah, classical Torah works or consulting Torah scholars.
Now my dilemmas stem from – is that what I want to do in congruence with what the Torah says. Or knowing what the Torah says – will I be able to overcome the transgressions – or do what the Torah prescribes. At least I am now one step ahead in the game from where I used to be.
So how does one go about getting out of autopilot mode? Thinking. Asking. Learning Torah. Questioning. Getting to the bottom of whether something is ultimately good or not. Being open to Improvement. Taking an honest look at oneself. Evaluating whether you are accomplishing your purpose and potential in life. Being open to the Torah truths.
It all starts with Torah and a will to find truth. Not doing so, one can remain on autopilot their entire life. Doing so, one finds the Ultimate Good in life – in this life and the next.