Contributed by: R. Yaacob Savdie
As Passover nears, there is a panic in all households. The process of cleaning and searching for Hames takes a toll on all of us. Cabinets, couches, cars, refrigerators and closets are only some of the places we must clean. Then the Bedikah approaches and we have to check every inch of our property. Finally, on the eve of Pesah, the house is koshered and ready for the holiday.
Now it's time to celebrate!
We go to shul, return home and are truly ready for a festive holiday meal. However, we must first drink some wine, eat vegetables, somehow swallow three ounces of massah and read the Haggadah. It's time to eat, but remember to save some room for more massah and wine (oh great…). We finish the seder, return home exhausted, can't even have a midnight snack. We then go to sleep, in order to wake up and do it all again.
Does this seem fun to you? Is this supposed to be a celebration? Is this the best way to show our freedom?! These thoughts are probably lurking in the back of your mind. Fortunately, you are not alone. This happens to be the question of the Ben Harasha (the evil son, of the four mentioned in the Haggadah).
"And it shall come to pass when your children shall say to you, what is this service to you? (Shemot 12:26)
The Ben HaRasha is tremendously bothered. He sees a contradiction in our actions at the seder. If Pesah is a celebration of freedom, why are we required to do so much work? Why can't we just drink and celebrate our independence like the rest of the world?
The answer lies in Judaism's unique perspective on freedom. "No man is free but he who delves into Torah" (Avot 6:2). One is not 'bound' by the limits of the Torah will eventually succumb to his desires. Once one begins to give in to one's desires, one's freedom is lost. Desires become an addiction and ruin one's life. Take a look at people who are promiscuous, drink, and take drugs. Where do such people end up? Is that freedom?
This is the answer to the Ben HaRasha's question. Hashem removed the bonds of slavery from us in order that we can serve him. We are now the 'slaves' of Hashem. However,there is no experience which is more liberating than one who follows the Torah.
Such an individual is in control of his desires.
Such an individual is truly free.
Hence, to celebrate our independence, we don't throw wild parties or light firework. We do the exact opposite. We celebrate a holiday which demands a great deal of effort and discipline. Yet, it is through this very same celebration that we become a "Freed Nation", the nation of Hashem.
Hag Kasher VeSameah,