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Wednesday, 6 April, 2011 - 5:06 pm


What is freedom?

Does it mean having no rules? That's called chaos.

Does it mean being governed by someone or something else? That's called a slave.

Today is the Hebrew date of Nissan 2, the "yahrtziet" (date of passing) of the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom DovBer Schneersohn, also known as "The Rashab". The following story that transpired with the Rebbe Rashab and his son, the "Previous" Rebbe, may help us answer the question.

A student was accepted into the esteemed Yeshiva (Jewish School) Tomchei Temimim run by the Previous Rebbe.  Upon meeting the student, the Rebbe Rashab mentioned to his son, that although the student is smart and up to the intellectual caliber of the other students in the school, his face is not refined. The Previous Rebbe instructed the student to be in charge of the Shmurah Matza baking, as well as organizing the preparations for the students’ public Seder. Lastly, the Previous Rebbe notified the student that he was going to be tested on a very complicated Chassidic discourse at 8 o'clock the morning after the Seder (after having cleaned up and gone to sleep very late).

The student worked very hard and successfully accomplished all the above mentioned tasks without complaining. At the meal on the 8th day of Pesach, The Rebbe Rashab pointed out to the Previous Rebbe that now the student’s face was noticeable more refined. This was accomplished by the "sweat of doing mitzvahs".

Perhaps that is true freedom. Free from the limitations of an unrefined self and free to serve God in a true and real way.

Are you free?

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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