A coalition that can facilitate our redemption

This coalition has demonstrated that it is interested in confronting old problems in new ways. We can only hope and pray that this breathe of fresh air will successfully facilitate our freedom.

The 33rd government take first picture together 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The 33rd government take first picture together 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Passover marks the Jewish people’s exodus from their enslavement in Egypt. It is a holiday that encourages us to reminisce about our freedom, granted to us way back when, and the implications of our freedom in the present day. Thus in preparation for Passover it seems fitting to ask ourselves what the meaning of freedom is; a difficult question considering that one of the definitions of freedom is the absence of subjection to foreign domination or to a despotic government. In a world of impending danger and observable tyranny, how can one contemplate freedom or consider redemption? Classically, freedom is associated with independence and nonconformity; terms which can be misunderstood as and even encourage irresponsibility.
Judaism, however, teaches that freedom is rendered through accountability and by committing oneself to a cause and purpose.
When the Jews first left Egypt they did not sing, nor did they express gratitude or submit a prayer; seven days later, after the parting of the Reed Sea, they burst forth in song in recognition of their deliverance. Why did they wait so long? Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik explains that the people of Israel were delivered from Egypt exclusively by God, “with His strong hand and outstretched arm,” however, at the Reed Sea the Jews participated with the Almighty in the miracle by jumping in the sea before it began to split. The Jewish people’s exceptional joy resulted from their being invited by God to take an active role in this wondrous miracle as they learned that only active participation can help ensure spiritual gratification.
This interpretation helps clarify God’s response to Moses at the sea shore, with the Egyptian army closing in behind them and the storming sea in front of them.
He says to Moses, “Why do you call upon me? Speak to the Children of Israel and move forward.”
Why did God respond this way to Moses’s desperation and the people’s panic? Why did He react to Moses’s helpless cries by challenging him to enter the sea? When God commanded Moses to march with the Jewish nation into the sea, He was revealing to them His definition of freedom by preparing them for a relationship with Him. Only the free man can choose to enter a partnership which is sincere and deeply meaningful. To partner with God, we must demonstrate both conviction and the willingness to act.
The Almighty did not want Moses or the Jewish people, His partners, to lose this opportunity to reveal His greatness to the world. Therefore, He told Moses, “move forward,” as if to say, “take action and proceed, and, as a people, you will be free to sanctify My name while the whole world watches.”
MAHANE MESHUTAF is an organization recognized by and participating with the IDF Rabbinate to which I belong. It consists of a group of handpicked lecturers and educators, approximately 50 men and women, whose objective is to infuse the soldiers with a sense of identity and purpose.
Our talks are void of anything which might be interpreted as religious coercion or political affiliation.
Our words reveal our mission: to remind the soldiers of who they are and what they represent and to inspire them to believe that identifying with their past is key to preserving the Jewish people’s future.
This past Shabbat, Mahane Meshutaf invited all of its members to participate in a conference to reflect upon our experiences, compare notes and discuss future programming. Few of us had ever met one another, nor did we know what we would find, even more reason why this Shabbat was truly amazing, for what we found was that the members of Mahane Meshutaf consisted of a most diverse crowd of Chabad Hassidim, haredim, religious Zionists from the center of the country, mitnachlim from the settlements along the West Bank, Sephardim and Ashkenazim.
What was most remarkable is that regardless of our most obvious differences no one was interested in discussing them nor did anyone show any sign of discomfort because of them. Quite the contrary. Each and every one of us were genuinely interested in learning from one another and disclosing our successes and failures.
We were all sworn to and united by the mission of our organization.
Our concerns focused upon the soldiers, their ideals and the awesome contributions they make to help ensure national security (you would probably be surprised how much an inspiring lecture can have upon soldier’s morale) and although at first we had gathered together compelled by our jobs, we began to learn over Shabbat that we were truly free; free of disparity, free of espousing political alignments, free of casting suspicions. We were free men graced with an objective and aspiring toward an ideal.
Recently I overheard my 18-year-old son, who is preparing himself for his IDF service, tell a group of his friends: “It does not matter what you do in the army, even if you are cleaning the toilets with a toothbrush you are doing something productive and contributing to our land and our people.”
While I believe my son has greater aspirations in the army then cleaning the toilets, I was impressed by his selfless attitude and driven remarks, which revealed a desire to “move forward and sanctify God’s name” and eagerly embrace his freedom.
The fundamental concept that one must partner and partake in order to establish relevance has always been and continues to remain the mainstay of Israel’s success and the Jewish nation’s freedom.
Perhaps it is fitting that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu managed to establish a government during the week leading up to the Passover holiday.
This coalition wants to promote the connection between social concerns and national security as it has expressed the need for all of the Children of Israel to “take action and proceed.”
Passover is consistently accompanied by spring, the season of new beginnings and a breathe of fresh air.
This coalition has demonstrated that it is interested in confronting old problems in new ways. We can only hope and pray that this breathe of fresh air will successfully facilitate our freedom and usher in a new era in which we “will be free to sanctify God’s name while the whole world watches.”
The writer teaches at Yeshiva Hesder Derech Chaim in Kiryat Gat and serves as a lecturer for the IDF Rabbinate and Mahane Meshutaf. He is also an author and lecturer on Israel, religious Zionism and Jewish education.