Rabbi Sessler D’Var Torah


The Goal of Freedom

Most Sephardic synagogues read the biblical book of the “Song of Songs”, known in Hebrew as “Shir Hashirim”, every Friday evening, prior to Kabbalat Shabbat.

Authored by King Solomon, the “Song of Songs” is an impassioned love poem replete with explicit erotic imagery. According to Rabbi Akiba, we are to understand the “Song of Songs” as an allegory for the kind of fiery fervor that we are to bring to our relationship with G-d.

On the Shabbat of Passover, the Song of Songs is read out loud in Chabad synagogues and other Chassidic and Ashkenazic communities throughout the world. Why is the Song of Songs read on Passover?

Perhaps because Passover is an opportune time to ponder all the miraculous and wondrous acts of loving-kindness which the Almighty has bestowed upon us as a nation, and as individuals. But more importantly, because we need to remind ourselves on the Shabbat of Passover the ultimate raison d’etre of political freedom, from a religious perspective. From a religious perspective, the whole purpose of worldly freedom is the facilitation of spiritual freedom/growing in soul. If we don’t harness our political freedom for personal growth, then we simply forfeit and waste the gift of secular freedom.

So here’s a personal question for each and every one of us to ponder in the privacy of our own inner chambers during this Shabbat of Passover: What are we doing with our G-d given political freedom, except providing for our families and enjoying splendid material goodies? Do we live in light of some loftier grand vision and value system, or do we just focus on ensuring and maintaining our own comforts and delights? Some kosher for Passover food for thought.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Sessler

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