THE FREEDOM FESTIVAL
What Passover has to tell us about freedom Five Jewish leaders reflect on the Exodus story and its theme of liberty from slavery, and consider the message it has for the world today found questions to confront human civilisation: What is freedom?
In the biblical account of the Exodus, the Israelites celebrated their freedom while still slaves to their Egyptian overlords. How can one explain this?
The answer is both powerful and life affirming. On April 19 1943, the residents of the Warsaw Ghetto held a makeshift Passover meal, celebrating their freedom. The Ghetto, however, was anything but free and Nazi soldiers were in the process of liquidating it.
Freedom is not just the absence of oppression, but the presence of a meaningful route to self-fulfilment. The Israelites and the residents of the Warsaw Ghetto found spiritual freedom even in the midst of the most extreme hardship.
In Jewish tradition we differentiate between yi’ud, which means fate and goral, which means destiny. My fate is the hand of cards that I am dealt. My destiny is how I choose to play them.
Regardless of the hand we are dealt, every one of us is free to shape our own destiny even in the most challenging of times.
This is an abridged version of a talk given by the Chief Rabbi on Radio 4’s Thought for the Day