With only a few short days before the electoral college meets to formally elect the new president, we are once again reminded of the great privilege we have to be able to choose our own leaders. Whether we agree with the politics or not - even if we strongly, vehemently disagree with those elected - the mere fact that free elections exist is something to be truly appreciated.

On the Jewish calendar we are approaching the holiday of Chanukah, where we celebrate the Jews being freed from Greek oppression two and a half millenia ago.

The idea of freedom and free choice is very central in Jewish thought. Freedom is far more than a practical system that works - it is the very center of morality itself.

'Man was created in the image of God', says the Torah in Genesis. God, as the creator of all life, is the source for all existence and therefore does not depend upon anything else. He is completely 'free', independent of any external force or influence.

The human being, being created in the image of God, has this property as well: Being completely free to choose his or her own path in life, without any outside influence.

Really?

Are we truly free of outside influence, just as God is? Of course not. We are heavily influenced by family, economic circumstances, friends, children, spouses and an endless list of other things.

True, this is all true. And that's exactly the point.

External influences are the opposite of freedom. They might be very positive influences, and can have lasting positive affects on us. But at the end of the day, they are external ideas projecting themselves onto our lives.

Freedom is that essential human spirit that's beyond all outside influence. It's what makes me, me, and you, you. It's the reason why even if your life where subject to the identical circumstances of my life, we would still be two fundamentally different people. You would be you, and I would be I.

In Jewish thought, freedom is based on the idea that at every person's core is a Godly soul, that is fundamentally good. It is this God given, creator-like power that gives us the ability to stave off any outside pressure, and stay true to what we know to be right.

Freedom is deeply moral on a personal level. It means having a deep conviction rooted inside your soul, that tells you that no matter what, right is right and wrong is wrong.

This is the meaning of man being created in God's image. God is the creator, and therefore the ultimate idea of freedom - he does not have any external influence at all. Human being do have many, many outside influences. But ultimately, we are the creator of our own lives. We have the power to chart our own paths by remaining independent and true to ourselves.

That is freedom. Free to be an independent, focused, and guided, caring, moral person, no matter which direction the wind blows.

Rabbi Avrohom

 

For a video of these words see below:

https://www.facebook.com/100011125564615/videos/vb.100011125564615/338868899827293/?type=2&theater