Passover is my favorite Jewish holiday. It involves an exciting story, delicious food, and a downright inspiring message—no matter how long you have suffered, there is hope that redemption and freedom lie ahead. I happen to be Jewish, but this idea is something that people of any faith can connect with and take comfort in.
I had a professor in graduate school who distinguished between two types of freedoms. One was “freedom from…,” meaning liberation from something that holds us back. This could refer to slavery, as it literally does in the Passover story, or personal struggles like addiction, depression or unhealthy relationships.
The other type of freedom was “freedom for….” This referred to the purpose and opportunity true freedom offers. In the Passover story, the Jews were liberated from slavery for the purpose of being free to follow the laws God would provide. If you were freed from the issues that challenge you, what would you use that freedom for?
I like to reflect on this question throughout my family’s Passover celebration. Here are three ways I feel “freedom for…” this year:
1. Freedom for Family
One of the sweetest moments of the traditional Passover seder meal is when the youngest person at the table asks the Four Questions, giving the adults an opportunity to educate the next generation about the lessons of the holiday. My six-year-old son will ask the questions this year, and I’ll be filled with gratitude that I am free to guide him toward becoming a force for good in the world. Being part of a family means we get to have an impact on those we love.
2. Freedom for Comfort
There’s a custom during the seder to recline in comfortable chairs. We do this because reclining is a privilege afforded to free people—and making the effort to find physical comfort ensures we never take for granted the pleasure of being at ease in our bodies. It is also a reminder to nurture ourselves throughout the year, to make choices that boost our well-being and health.
3. Freedom for Hope
I have always wondered what it felt like to walk through the parted Red Sea, with Pharaoh’s army bearing down from behind, and a mysterious landscape ahead. The hope and faith the people must have had to put one foot in front of the other in that moment is profound. Freedom is neither easy nor fast. But if we keep our eyes focused on what lies ahead, we have the chance to help those walking beside us keep a positive outlook—and reach the other side together.