Nishmat: “Freedom To” or “Freedom From”

Apr 17th, 2011 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer
Power aims

at Freedom To;

finds itself

on a collision course

with all the other Freedoms To

that inhabit gods and men and beast;

storm and drought and pestilence;

sickness, old age and death.

Wisdom aims

for Freedom From

discovers that all the competing Freedom To’s

struggle within the stadium of life

and win and lose and win and lose

and lose at last at the gates

of old age and death.

Discovers that he who enters not

the arena of the breath

suffers no loss and dies no death.

Brian Taylor

Taylor’s poem is an easier read than Sir Isaiah Berlin’s “Positive and Negative Liberty,” but still not as powerful as the Haggadah. Dayeinu concludes with, “And built for us the House of Choice, to atone for all our sins,” or, “Freedom From” our mistakes.

However, Pesach Freedom, contrary to the poem, is an expression of Power – Yad haChazakah – Powerful Hand of God –  guided by Wisdom. We are offered Free Choice – “Freedom To” choose with the gift of “Freedom From,” the inevitable mistakes we will make with our free choice.

We acknowledge that our “Freedom From” and “Freedom To” obligate us: “What can I respond to God for all the good He has given to make me independent? I will lift up the cup of salvation and I will call out in God’s Name. I will fulfill my promises to God in front of all His nation (Hallel).”

Our obligation: To rejoice in both freedoms; to sing, and to take full advantage. There is an obligation that comes with freedom; to guide the Power with Wisdom:  The message of “Nishmat kol chai.”

Author Info:
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