The views expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone and do not represent AUJS’ position or viewpoint on the topic in any way. This article is designed to merely stimulate discussion and encourage respectful debate. 

This piece has been written by Amylee Assness

Freedom is defined as the power or right to act, speak or think as one wants whilst
having immunity from obligation. This definition permits one to be free from shared
responsibility whilst prioritising an individual’s power.

Judaism views freedom differently to that of secular society, where there is a shift
from considering individual desires to connecting to responsibility and a widening of

Rabbi Yaakov Sinclair, in his essay “The True Meaning of Freedom”
discusses that in the Pesach story Egypt is the ultimate constraint and the escape is
represented as the truest form of freedom. In contradiction with Western Society’s
view of freedom, this form of freedom incorporates responsibility as without purpose
there can be no liberation.

In order to attain freedom in Judaism, it is suggested that one needs to balance
physical and spiritual responsibilities, specifically the tangible and intangible. This is
valorised by the fact that Judaism is a religion that focuses on everything in
moderation and balance.

This balance is maintained in Exodus 3:12

“when you take the people out of Egypt, you will serve God on this mountain”.

This description perfectly describes Judaism’s view on balancing both needs as the people were free
as their physical needs were taken into consideration with serving God's spirituality and
thus the people of the time were free.

Additionally, in a Pesach message by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks he discusses the
importance of balance by dividing freedom into chofesh ‘freedom from’ and cheirut
‘freedom towards’. He describes chofesh as freedom from a negative restriction
when one is no longer oppressed for example Pesach where people were freed from
the physical slavery and oppression. Rabbi Sacks asserts that one cannot just rely
on chofesh to be free and has to include cheirut freedom concurrently to truly be

In saying this, may we continue to be free and uphold our responsibilities to continue
to protect and enhance the world!

Chag Sameach