Elster's World

Sunday, April 09, 2006

I'm Free (Or Am I?)

Can we really feel the freedom?

I have been asking this question around Pesach (Passover) time for the last seven years. Allow me to explain:

Passover commemorates the end of the Jewish people’s bondage in Egypt and the commencement of their journey to the promised land of Israel. Obviously, it is an extremely important period on the Jewish calendar.

We are taught that at the Seder, the most important ceremony of Passover, it is a requirement that each and every one of us feel as though we have just been taken out of bondage; that each and every one of us is, therefore, “free” on that night. Over the course of Jewish history, this has often been difficult to accomplish. While exiled in far-flung places all over the world, seemingly surrounded on all sides by people with hatred in their hearts for us, it must have been difficult for our ancestors to have mustered up a true feeling of freedom in their hearts.

Yet even in today’s world, where freedom is not merely a fleeting dream but a way of life, this is easier said than done. The constant stream of “the real world”, which rushes at us like the never-ending flow of a powerful river, can potentially drown out any real freedom we may feel. Constant worries of money, work, school and just general life pressure clog our brains. I for one find myself waking up on the eve of Pesach, rushing to make my train, going about my business and suddenly realizing “hey, we have the seder tonight”. Sure I help prepare for Pesach. I shlep, I “tovel”, I “kasher”. I’m a one-man Pesach turnover crew. But it’s all done on autopilot. It’s all done while thinking to myself “what do I have to do at work tomorrow?”

I recognize that I am partially to blame for this feeling of disconnect. I often think that if Pesach meant more to me than it does (though I actually do think that the holidays hold very special meanings for me), then I wouldn’t struggle so to find my feeling of freedom. Perhaps if I was not so wrapped up in my own set of problems and was able to fully immerse myself in the coming holiday…But then again, perhaps not. I’m really not sure if the problem lies within me or with the society that I am but a part.

In either case, how, then, can I find my freedom this year? What can I do to make sure that as I recline on the beautiful pillowcase that my five year old daughter made for me in school, that I recline as a truly free man? Perhaps the answer is that it’s all about the mindset of the individual. If the feeling isn’t simply coming to me, then I need to go out and find it. So what makes me feel free? Well, anyone who reads this blog knows what makes me feel chained up. But what connects me to freedom? Well, the answer is simple. I find freedom in the two little ones - five year old daughter and almost three year old son. Watching them experience Pesach will be the salvation in my own eyes. Seeing their pride as they recite the Ma Nishtana or the Baby Moshe song (bet you don’t know the latter). Their laughter as they hide the Afikkomen then spill the beans as to where it is before we even have a chance to look for it.

The little things. That’s where the freedom lies. As U2 says in Miracle Drug – “Freedom, as they said, like the top of a newborn babies head.” If I can’t find the freedom myself, I can find it in my kids.

Chag Kosher V’Sameyach to you all – Happy Passover.

4 Comments:

  • Have a great pesach

    By Blogger Lvnsm27, at 1:10 PM  

  • Right back at ya

    By Blogger Elster, at 2:31 PM  

  • Well said. Enjoy the chag.

    By Blogger Jack's Shack, at 4:29 PM  

  • True, one way of looking at it is through 'The God of Small Things'. Another is deciphering between freedom from to freedom to.
    I heard a Rabbi this Passover mention that the definition of slavery in Jewish terminology is not being able to legally father a child, i.e. a slave's offspring belong to the master.
    In this iGeneration, who really owns the children? In order to achieve freedom, we must bond further with our own blood and dreams.
    Missed you!
    [p.s. I can relate better to this post than the others. As I told you once, it's soccer I care about, nada mas!]

    By Blogger Tomboy, at 7:33 PM  

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