Friday, 15 April 2011

Freedom Through Time and Space


It’s getting late on Thursday evening.

The choice is more work in the kitchen or these weekly words.

A slave to the kitchen or a slave to the word processor.


I’m reminded of a line in the Haftorah read on this Shabbat before Pesach – a Haftorah traditionally read by a congregation’s Rabbi (another piece of preparation) - ‘I shall see what there is between they who serve God and they who do not serve Him’ (Malachi 3: 18).

The esteemed choice, in Malachi, is the choice to serve, not the choice not to serve

We don’t leave slavery in Egypt to become free of responsibility, to become free of having to serve.

We remain servants even in our freedom. What changes is the Master. Context is, indeed, everything.


Hard work is fine; freedom is calculated not in terms of the amount of effort expended, but by means of a wholly different measure. As I work on my own kitchen I think about Passover through time, previous kitchens – the first flat I paid rent on, the first place I owned. My mind wanders back through the generations, the Sedarim I knew as child, and further back still. I’ve been looking over the Rambam’s laws of Hametz u’Matzah. Rambam refers to all kinds of ancient dishes, strange milk and floury plates of foods we’ve long since stopped making.


I’ve been thinking about Passover over space. I think of my family stripping away the Chametz in Bath or Jerusalem. There was a fun moment in the office this week when our Sephardi administrator mentioned her tradition of hitting people over the head with spring onions during the Seder.


It’s not slavery when you are not doing it alone, it’s not slavery when the preparations for Pesach are part of folding into a chain of history that spans continents and millennia. Instead, for me at least, it’s the experience of shared ‘avodah’ that feels like freedom.


I wish one and all a happy and kosher Pesach,

Chag Kasher V’Sameach,


(and do please make every effort to join us in Shul for weekday Yom Tov services, it would be wonderful to see really strong Minyanim for these days of celebrations)


Rabbi Jeremy  

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