Freedom with Responsibility
Not a privilege but a responsibility awaited them. Not so much as a reward for past good behaviour but as a prelude to their future destiny... The return to the homeland, the transformation from dependence to sovereignty, slavery to freedom are but instruments, the means for achieving the ultimate goal - the service of God.... The Almighty did not release Israel from the burden of persecution in order to set them free from all burden or responsibility. T/he Almighty God wished them to become free to accept another burden -the Rule of Heaven, Torah and Mitzvot. - Nehama Leibowitz
I have slowly been transitioning from Canadian news sources to British ones, so it was a surprise for me, when at our packed out Lunch Club, people kept asking me about the 'freedom' protests in Ottawa and Toronto.
For those of you who also haven't kept up with the news, the normally polite Canadian people are struggling to project their normal calm to the world public, as truckers are protesting COVID restrictions and vaccine mandates with their vehicles.
Much can be said about these protestors and the populist movement which supports them. Most shocking was the display of hate symbols at the rally. In major Canadian publications, you can read the words of my colleagues in response to this, "The Reform Rabbis of Canada (RROC) and the Reform Jewish Community of Canada (RJCC) call upon Canadians everywhere to speak out against the hate, racism, and antisemitism on display in our nation’s capital... While valuing the right to peaceful protest, we condemn the inflammatory language and imagery, and we call for its immediate eradication. There is no place for hate in Canada."
One of the basic lessons of Judaism is that Freedom is not complete without Responsibility. In Judaism, we don't celebrate Freedom FROM, but rather Freedom TO. Freedom to look after each other. Freedom to live our lives as Jews. Freedom to support others as they seek to become the best versions of themselves.
In this week's parasha, we are receiving additional instructions from Sinai, about how our leaders should be clothed in Justice. As we slowly return to a ‘freer’ life, I hope we will remember that Freedom is enhanced through Responsibility.