Freedom. Free choice. Free thinking. Free press. Free speech. Free. What is freedom? In today's tense climate, with so many accusations of bias, repression and injustice, that's a question that is getting harder to answer. Freedom from what? For what? To do what? 

Freedom is often associated with a lack of rules - or more accurately, a lack of definitions. It seems quite true, if you think about it. The most repressive regimes and societies in history were packed to the hilt with rules and definitions. They always permanently locked human beings into classes. There were the serfs, slaves, masters, workers, farmers, princes, kings and barons. 

It should come as no surprise, then, that today's modern society - especially the youth - hungry for equality and true freedom - is devoted to erasing all definitions and rules. The possibility for true equality, justice and freedom seems to hinge upon ridding the world of all differences and definitions, finally letting everyone be free to be who they want to be. 

Freedom for what? Freedom to be themselves.

Hold on now - freedom to be myself is a very specific, unambiguous objective! Far from being a loose, definition-less term, it's actually a very defined one. "I want to be free to be me". Not to be who someone else wants me to be, not to be anyone else, but to be me. 

Listen to the words being cried out by so many in today's day and age: "don't tell me what to do!", "don't tell me how to dress!", "don't tell me who my friends should be!" If we listen closely, far from hearing a cry to be free from identity, I hear a cry for identity.

It is for this very reason that Judaism associates true freedom with living a moral, guided, meaningful, God-conscious, defined life. For a Jew it's a life guided by the Torah, and for every human being its living a moral, God-fearing life in their own special way. Forging a true sense of purpose and identity does not stem from a lack of rules and guidelines. It takes a lot of focus, discipline and work to be your best self. 

Teaching our families, children, relatives and friends about Judaism and Jewish tradition - far from being a restrictive, burdensome, binding bunch of rules - can be the priceless gift of a sense of purpose, identity and meaning, for which so many search.

Rabbi Avrohom