Freedom

By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)

 


I am looking at how Pesach (Passover) is related to Shavuot (Feast of Weeks). I can see that they both involve freedom.

 

Pesach is the feast of physical freedom.

Shavuot is the feast of total freedom.

 

Shavuot (Pentecost) appears to be the time of the betrothal of HaShem and Israel. Betrothal is one way that we are set free even though we have bound ourselves to another. Most folks seek out, and look forward to, marriage; even so, we ought to look forward to our betrothal with Mashiach, the Messiah. We should see His dowry, the Torah, as something of value to set us free. This is beautifully illustrated by examining a pasuk and the words contained in it:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 32:16 And the tables were the work of G-d, and the script was the script of God, engraved upon the tablets.

 

The word for "engraved" in Hebrew is chorus, identical except in pronunciation to the Hebrew word cherus meaning "freedom." Our Hakhamim (Rabbis) understand this similarity to indicate that only the person who spends his time trying to master what is written on the tablets is truly free. A Baraitha in the Mishna emphasizes this point:

 

Avot 6:2 BARAITHA2. R. JOSHUA B. LEVI SAID: EVERY DAY A BATH KOL GOES FORTH FROM MOUNT HOREB, AND MAKES PROCLAMATION AND SAYS: WOE UNTO MEN ON ACCOUNT OF [THEIR] CONTEMPT TOWARDS THE TORAH, FOR WHOEVER OCCUPIES HIMSELF NOT WITH THE [STUDY OF] TORAH IS CALLED: ‘[THE] REBUKED [ONE]’ AS IT IS SAID, AS A RING OF GOLD IN A SWINE'S SNOUT, SO IS A FAIR WOMAN THAT TURNETH AWAY FROM DISCRETION, AND IT SAYS, AND THE TABLES WERE THE WORK OF GOD, AND THE WRITING WAS THE WRITING OF GOD, GRAVEN UPON THE TABLES. READ NOT HARUTH [WHICH MEANS ‘GRAVEN’] BUT HERUTH [WHICH MEANS ‘FREEDOM’]. FOR THERE IS NO FREE MAN FOR THEE BUT HE THAT OCCUPIES HIMSELF WITH THE STUDY OF THE TORAH; AND WHOEVER REGULARLY OCCUPIES HIMSELF WITH THE STUDY OF THE TORAH, LO, HE IS EXALTED, AS IT IS SAID, AND FROM MATTANAH TO NAHALIEL; AND NAHALIEL TO BAMOTH.

 

Notice how often the Torah is associated with freedom:

 

Tehillim (Psalms) 119:41-48 {Waw} May your unfailing love come to me, HaShem, your salvation according to your promise; Then I will answer the one who taunts me, for I trust in your word. Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws. I will always obey your law, for ever and ever. I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame, For I delight in your commands because I love them. I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees.

 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 61:1-2 The Spirit of the Sovereign HaShem is on me, because HaShem has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, To proclaim the year of HaShem’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.

 

Romans 8:18-23 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope That the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

 

II Corinthians 3:13-18 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Mashiach is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

 

Galatians 5:13-14 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

 

Yaaqov (James) 1:22-25 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror And, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does.

 

Yaaqov (James) 2:10-14 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, Because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?

 

I Tzefet (Peter) 2:11-17 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, Or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.

 

II Tzefet (Peter) 2:17-21 These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity--for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Yeshua Mashiach and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.

 

A slave was "allowed" to enjoy the freedom of the Torah under certain circumstances:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 12:43-45 HaShem said to Moses and Aaron, "These are the regulations for the Passover: "No foreigner is to eat of it. Any slave you have bought may eat of it after you have circumcised him, But a temporary resident and a hired worker may not eat of it.

 

Shemot (Exodus) 23:12 "Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed.

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 22:11 But if a priest buys a slave with money, or if a slave is born in his household, that slave may eat his food.

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 25:39 "'If one of your countrymen becomes poor among you and sells himself to you, do not make him work as a slave.

 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 24:7 If a man is caught kidnapping one of his brother Israelites and treats him as a slave or sells him, the kidnapper must die. You must purge the evil from among you.

 

The Torah freed slaves from abuse:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 21:20-21 "If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, But he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.

 

Shemot (Exodus) 21:32 If the bull gores a male or female slave, the owner must pay thirty shekels of silver to the master of the slave, and the bull must be stoned.

 

Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:20 "'If a man sleeps with a woman who is a slave girl promised to another man but who has not been ransomed or given her freedom, there must be due punishment. Yet they are not to be put to death, because she had not been freed.

 

Shemot (Exodus) 21:26-27 "If a man hits a manservant or maidservant in the eye and destroys it, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the eye. And if he knocks out the tooth of a manservant or maidservant, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the tooth.

 

The Torah gives us a picture of our relationship with HaShem, through the Torah, in:

 

Shemot (Exodus) 21:2-6 "If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything. If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free. "But if the servant declares, 'I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,' Then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.

 

We will be successful if we obey Torah:

 

Yehoshua (Joshua) 1:6-9 "Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for HaShem your God will be with you wherever you go."

 

Let's take a look at what "bondage is". Bondage is being a slave to Pharaoh (HaSatan) in the land of Egypt (sin):

 

Bereshit (Genesis) 15:13 Then HaShem said to him, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.

 

One of the passages often used to promote the fact that the "law" enslaves us, is found in:

 

Galatians 4:4-12 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, To redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, <"Abba>, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God--or rather are known by God--how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you. I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong.

 

What ever you decide are the "weak and miserable principles" that previously enslaved us; it is obvious that it is not the Torah because in this passage Paul indicates that freedom can be yours if you become like him. Paul obeyed Torah all of his life! There is not a single example, anywhere in scripture, where Paul violates the Torah without due consequence. Further, at the end of his life he indicates that he has never abandoned the traditions of the fathers:

 

I Corinthians 11:1-2 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Mashiach. I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you.

 

HaShem will rescue His people from slavery and give them freedom:

 

Yechezkel (Ezekiel) 34:22-31 I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another. I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I HaShem will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I HaShem have spoken. "'I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of wild beasts so that they may live in the desert and sleep in the forests in safety. I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. The trees of the field will yield their fruit and the ground will yield its crops; the people will be secure in their land. They will know that I am HaShem, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them. They will no longer be plundered by the nations, nor will wild animals devour them. They will live in safety, and no one will make them afraid. I will provide for them a land renowned for its crops, and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land or bear the scorn of the nations. Then they will know that I, HaShem their God, am with them and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Sovereign HaShem. You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign HaShem.'"

 

Following our own ways is to be a slave. In fact, most of the things done in the name of liberty are sin, and sin enslaves us.

 

Sin, therefore, enslaves us! We can see this in:

 

Nahum 3:1-6 Woe to the city of blood, full of lies, full of plunder, never without victims! The crack of whips, the clatter of wheels, galloping horses and jolting chariots! Charging cavalry, flashing swords and glittering spears! Many casualties, piles of dead, bodies without number, people stumbling over the corpses-- All because of the wanton lust of a harlot, alluring, the mistress of sorceries, who enslaved nations by her prostitution and peoples by her witchcraft. "I am against you," declares HaShem Almighty. "I will lift your skirts over your face. I will show the nations your nakedness and the kingdoms your shame. I will pelt you with filth, I will treat you with contempt and make you a spectacle.

 

So, when did Mashiach, or Paul, ever violate Torah?

 

To emphasize that Paul never violated Torah, let’s look at another passage:

 

II Luqas (Acts) 26:4-5 "The Jews all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee.

 

So, when does scripture ever show a Pharisee not upholding the Torah?

 

To emphasize that Paul never violated Torah, let’s look at another passage:

 

II Luqas (Acts) 24:14-16 However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets, And I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.

 

The "law" mentioned above is the word used to translate "Torah", from this quote of Yiremeyahu (Jeremiah) 31:31, in:

 

Bereans (Hebrews) 8:8-12 But God found fault with the people and said: "The time is coming, declares HaShem, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares HaShem. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares HaShem. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know HaShem,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

 

Strong's defines this Greek word as:

 

3551 nomos, nom'-os; from a prim. nemo (to parcel out, espec. food or grazing to animals); law (through the idea of prescriptive usage), gen. (regulation), specifically (of Moses [includ. the volume]; also of the Gospel), or fig. (a principle):-law.

 

Paul is therefore arguing strongly, in Galatians 4:4-12, that the Torah sets us free from slavery!

 

The trip from the land of sin (Egypt) and the slavery of the man who typifies HaSatan (Pharaoh), was a trip towards freedom that began when we left Pharaoh, became more apparent when we left the land of sin (Egypt), and culminated in the absolute freedom found in the Torah!

 

This passage from Hoshea (Hosea) puts Shavuot and Pesach together:

 

Hoshea (Hosea) 2:14-23 "Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. "In that day," declares HaShem, "you will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me 'my master.' I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked. In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety. I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge HaShem. "In that day I will respond," declares HaShem--"I will respond to the skies, and they will respond to the earth; And the earth will respond to the grain, the new wine and oil, and they will respond to Jezreel. I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called 'Not my loved one.' I will say to those called 'Not my people,' 'You are my people'; and they will say, 'You are my God.'"

 

In Egypt, HaShem began courting His future bride (the house of Israel) by delivering her from the bondage of Pharaoh. On Pesach, He delivered her from Pharaoh’s (Satan’s) hand. On the seventh day of Pesach, the “day of faith”, He delivered His future bride from the land of Egypt (sin). But, it was not till Sinai that the betrothed bride saw a glimpse of real freedom. The bondage of slavery, that binds the bride, will not be broken until Torah is written on her heart, by the hand of HaShem. In that day, we will be truly free.

 

What is the difference between chametz and matzah? It's just a matter of time. The same flour and water, dough with which matzah is made, if left to rest for more than eighteen minutes, becomes what is considered chametz.

 

It is therefore perhaps wise to bear in mind that the Hebrew verb lematzot means "to make good use of, to take advantage of, to enjoy" whereas the verb lehachmitz means "to waste, to throw away" because the temporal dimension of our tradition comes into its own during Pesach. It is from this point that we count the months, not merely because Pesach is the first month, but, more fundamentally, because one of the clearest signs of liberty comes of being able to set temporal standards without having them set for us by others.

 

It is during these times of crossing seas, these unique moments (as all moments are) that a difference of a few minutes defines where on the coast we end up landing. Freedom, in Jewish terms, sometimes seems synonymous with non-postponement.

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This study was written by

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

Comments may be submitted to:

 

Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian

4544 Highline Drive SE

Olympia, WA 98501

 

Internet address:  gkilli@aol.com

Web page:  http://www.betemunah.org/

 

(360) 918-2905

 

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