The Freedom to Remember

from ROI Community:

Theory of (Freedom’s) Relativity

Freedom is…well, different things to different people. We all feel saddled with burdens that aren’t ours, with circumstances that we feel are unfair. But most of us, if we are lucky enough to be counted as part of the Jewish innovation sector, are very lucky. We live in enough wealth and security to say, “yes, we’re Jewish, and we have all this creativity we’d like to apply toward making Jewish life, art, culture, tradition, peoplehood, etc better.” Most of the time, we understand that our challenges are different from the life-and-death moment-to-moment challenges that our grandparents confronted daily. Even when life throws us an unexpected blizzard, or earthquake, or tree falling on the house, we are able to say, “yes, that was terrible – but we’re lucky it wasn’t worse.” Or to put it another way, perhaps we got better than we deserved.

There’s a midrash, a Jewish legend, that tells us that all Jewish souls were present at the revelation of the Torah on Mount Sinai. But I think the collective memory goes back further – to a time when our ancestors were oppressed, were told that their sons would be killed at birth, and were forced to make bricks without straw. Most of us today know we wouldn’t know how to make a brick even with plentiful straw and clay; and it is for this reason that we are commanded to see ourselves as if we, ourselves, had been redeemed from Egypt. Creating a national, deep, psychic connection between our modern daily lives and the lives of a people in slavery is essential to our cohesion.

Maybe freedom is remembering where you came from, and also having the ability to choose paths and ideas that craft a new outcome, creating a more creative or satisfying spiritual destiny. When you’re free, remembering where you’ve been doesn’t confine you to the path always-taken: it helps you define where you’re going .