A student of mine, Alyssa Petersel, was inspired by the This I Believe project, and has started her own This I Believe blog. She invited me to contribute, and I wrote this piece for Passover.

I believe in freedom. Not as much freedom from as freedom for, the idea of positive liberty.

I believe that the first step of freedom is casting off the yoke of oppression. The Torah, our people’s eternal account of its ongoing life in history, brought us the world’s most enduring story of the injustice of slavery. The punishment of Pharaoh and the exodus of the Israelites has become the template for liberation movements across the globe, inspiring Enlightenment reformers and civil rights crusaders. V’hotzeiti, v’hitazlti, v’ga-alti, v’lakachti—“I will take them out… I will save them… I will redeem them… I will take them to Me…” (Ex. 6:6-7). These words spoken by God to describe the liberation of the Israelites have become the bywords of freedom for humanity. I believe in them.

But I believe that this is only the first half of freedom, and I believe we too often neglect the second half.

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