Surviving is not Living

F is for Freedom

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I remember saying that the word for the year 2014 would be freedom. Little did I know in how many different ways that would ring true.

I meant financial freedom and freedom from a job. Not that I would have necessarily built my business big enough to be out of debt and able to quit my job, but that would be the focus for this year, to work towards that end. It still is, only now I have my husband to double that effort with.

But then came April, and another meaning to the word. It was my first year celebrating Pesach (Passover). I’ve started learning and observing various jewish practices. Pesach was the first holiday I experienced. It is a remembrance and celebration that the curse of the first born child being killed among all those in Egypt was not carried out to first borns in Jewish households. It is also a celebration of the Jewish people being led out of captivity from Egypt. I thought again of freedom.

And finally a much bigger meaning that this word has come to mean this year is in regards to all that I am learning about Jewish law and practice. Growing up I always saw all the laws of the Torah as being restrictive, “old-school”, irrelevant and enslaving. It is easy to see that when one looks towards them as individual rules rather than a collective whole. But as I have begun to understand them in context and with the idea that they’re not designed for restriction but for freedom. The freedom to draw near to my Creator and to be closer to holiness.

I had heard of a study done about children playing on a playground with a fence and then playing again after it was removed. I went searching for a source and found several articles that referenced the study, but none that clarified the source. The study concluded that when the fence was in place, the children would play freely, knowing exactly where the boundary was, and feeling safe within the boundary. When it was removed, they would stay closer to the building or their teacher and not venture as far.

Having no fence held them back from experiencing a feeling of freedom.

For a long time I threw around the word “legalism” and scoffed at people enslaved by some old code and tradition they didn’t have to follow anymore. But who was I to say what people had to and didn’t have to follow any more? Who are any of us to edit out parts of the book many of us claim to be holy and inspired? What I have found in Orthodoxy is more freedom than I ever had trying to do things my own way. I know the bounds I can live within for health, for a blessed marriage, for safety and favor. And for holiness. It isn’t legalism. It is life. It is my freedom.


Written by No More Tomorrows

August 1, 2014 at 1:33 pm

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