Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski, the noted American Hasidic Rabbi, psychiatrist and expert on substance abuse, sees Passover as a celebration of freedom from a uniquely personal perspective.

The 80-year-old founder of the Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Pennsylvania and author of more than 60 books, granted Inside Israel an exclusive interview during the intermediate days of the festival, which he says is a time to treasure one's personal liberty and break away from, in his words, “enslavement to the ruthless tyrants of addiction” –  from alcoholism to excessive text-messaging.

“We have this propensity to become dependent,” Dr. Twerski said. “Having won our liberty at such a great price, one would think that this is something that we would not surrender.”

This scion of a 250 year Hasidic-rabbinic dynasty is a man of faith. In discussing the endurance of the Jewish people, he takes the long view.

“Clearly we are living in precarious times, and there's danger surrounding us from every side,” said Dr. Twerski.  “However, it seems to have been our fate that we live in danger and that we survive catastrophes. We are survivors.”

Dr. Twerski is hopeful about Israel's future, despite what he admits are “precarious times.” Asked about the morale of Israelis in the face of recent terrorist attacks and emerging existential threats to the Jewish state, Dr. Twerski insists on looking beyond despair.

“We may see and we may feel despair, but despair does not exist,” said Dr. Twerski. “We live with hope. Just as God is eternal, our hope is eternal. We have gone through many ordeals, survived many extremely difficult times. But ultimately I think we have to believe that we are still under the sovereignty and vigilance of God, and Israel will survive.”

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