MembersA Jewish Look at Our Cry for Freedom

When Moses declared, “Let my people go,” he wasn’t just asking for a break from slavery

By David Lazarus | | Topics: Jewish Wisdom for the Everyday Man
Photo: Haim Shohat/Flash90

Part 13 in Jewish Wisdom for the Everyday Man: a “guide for the perplexed” through the modern maze of morality from ancient Jewish Sages.

Freedom. It’s the backbone of democracies around the world, a promise of religions and the hope of slaves, addicts and teenagers. What is this thing we call freedom and where can we find it?

The Jewish sages gave plenty of thought to the elusive cry for liberty that sparks revolutions around the globe and has been commemorated for thousands of years by the Jews on Passover.

Rabbis noticed three different kinds of freedom in Torah.

The first is Chofesh, which in modern Hebrew we use for going on vacation. It means take a break from work. When a slave is set free from having to work for his master, the Torah calls it Chofesh (Ex. 21:2).

Chofesh is the most basic kind of freedom. It may be the end of physical labor but has no moral or...

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