Torah Fax

Friday, May 14, 2004 - 23 Iyar, 5764

Torah Reading: Behar-Bechukotai (Leviticus 25:1 - 27:34)
Candle Lighting Time: 7:47 PM
Shabbat Ends: 8:54 PM
Shabbat Chazzak
Shabbat Mevarchim

Let Freedom Ring

“Proclaim liberty throughout the Land..” These immortal words, inscribed on the Liberty Bell, have their source in this week’s Torah portion of Behar. The Torah discusses the requirement to count seven cycles of seven years. The fiftieth year was called the Yovel, or Jubilee, during which all slaves were to be released, hence the aforementioned proclamation of freedom.
The fact that we read this portion in close proximity to Shavuot - the Holiday which occurs exactly fifty days after Passover - is certainly not coincidental.
Just as the parshah discusses slaves attaining freedom after fifty years, so too does the Torah, which we acquired after counting fifty days, make a Jew truly free. Our sages teach in Ethics of the Fathers (a portion of the Talmud studied in the weeks after Passover as a form of preparation for Shavuot): “There is no free person, save one who occupies himself with the study of Torah.”
In Chassidic thought, this concept is explained as follows:
Freedom can be measured by the degree that one is able to function in accord with one’s true desires. If a person’s greatest ambition and pleasure in life is to express himself through song, for example, that person is truly free only when he has the capacity to develop that talent. Though the person may be incarcerated in the harshest prison, since he can pursue and develop his core dream of singing - he is truly free. Conversely, if the same person were to be physically free, but not allowed to sing and develop his talent, he would be considered anything but a free man.
A Jew’s innermost desire is to connect with the Infinite by drinking from the life-giving waters of the Torah. When one is free to study Torah without distraction, he or she is free in the truest sense of the word.
Another parallel can be drawn from the concept of freedom associated with the Jubilee year and the freedom connected with the Torah.
In the verse cited above, “Proclaim liberty throughout the land,” the Torah continues with the phrase, “to all its inhabitants.” Since, as mentioned before, we are actually discussing the freedom given to slaves in the Jubilee year, why does the Torah say “to all the inhabitants?” Does the rest of the population lack freedom that it must be granted to them in the Jubilee?
One answer offered by the commentators is that, on a deeper level, if one Jew is lacking freedom, no one can truly say they are free. Freedom - whether spiritual or physical - must be all encompassing. Jews are compared to the various limbs that make up one complete body. If one part of the body is impaired and cannot perform its function, than the entire organism is impaired.
The same holds true for receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai. It is said that if one Jew was missing from Sinai, G‑d would not have given the Torah to the Jewish people. Similarly, if any Jew is lacking (or missing entirely) in their spiritual growth today, the entire nation feels it.
Our sages tell us that both the Jubilee year and Sinai, are paradigms for the liberating age of Moshiach.
One may wonder: the level of freedom we enjoy in this country (and around the world) surpasses the freedom felt at any other time in history. Our freedom extends not only to material matters, but - thankfully, to spiritual opportunities as well. There is hardly a place on Earth where a Jew does not have the ability to fully express his Jewishness with pride.
Why then to we need and request so strongly the Redemption through Moshiach? It is understandable why Jews in the Middle Ages needed Moshiach - their lives were miserable; there were pogroms and terrible suffering. But now, it seems that we have “evolved” into a brighter future and who’s to say that that evolution won’t continue - so why the need for Moshiach?
The answer is that there are still many Jews who have not yet connected with Judaism and still others who, specifically because of the freedoms of our society - have drifted away from observance of Torah. As long as one Jew is not yet connected with Torah, none of us - no matter how far we’ve developed in our pursuit of holiness - can truly be called free.
Moshiach will have the G‑d given ability to reveal the innermost, Divine essence of our souls and bring liberty and freedom to all mankind.            
Moshiach Matters

Jews everywhere should know that the time for the coming of Moshiach has certainly arrived. All that is needed is to fulfill the directive of the Previous Rebbe: "Stand ready, every one of you, to greet our Righteous Moshiach!" These preparations, motivated by a yearning and desire for Moshiach, will of themselves surely bring Moshiach. As to the question, "Why has he not come until now?"--Moshiach will no doubt provide an answer for this in person. In the meantime, the query must not (G‑d forbid) weaken a person's spiritual endeavors. On the contrary, it should spur him ahead with ever more energy. (The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

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