Israel Forever

For the week ending 24 January 2004 / 1 Shevat 5764

The Four Freedoms

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Four forms of freedom for our ancestors from Egyptian bondage promised by G-d to Moshe and recorded in this weeks portion.

Four mitzvot that we perform at the Seder table, each of them accompanied by drinking a cup of wine or grape juice.

What is the connection between them?

There are many forms of freedom. (Are you old enough to remember the famous "four freedoms" of F.D.R.?) All of them find expression in the mitzvot of the Seder enhanced by the drinking which itself is a celebration of freedom.

The kiddush we say at the very outset of the long evening speaks proudly of the freedom from mediocrity we gained by being sanctified by our Creator and given such a holiday. This is followed by the central feature of the evening, the relating of the story of freedom from slavery though the recital of the Haggada. But spiritual aristocracy and political independence are not enough if there is not an economic basis for survival. ("Freedom from want" is what F.D.R. called it.) Our own freedom from want is expressed in the Birkat Hamazon we say at the end of the festive meal as our thanks to Heaven for providing us with our nourishment. The fourth and final wine-punctuated mitzvah is the completing of the recital of the Hallel which we began before the meal. This song of praise to Heaven opens with the words "Sing praises, you servants of G-d". It may seem paradoxical but the ultimate freedom of a Jew is achieved only when he rejoices in declaring his subservience to the Divine Master. Only then can he truly be free from the enslaving passions of the body and the foolish fashions of a materialistic society.

These are important lessons for all who wish to truly see Israel as a land of freedom forever.

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