“Freedom is a significant principle for modern man, who wants to be autonomous, someone who chooses and is not enslaved”, writes Rabbi Eyal Vered on the receiving of the Torah in this week’s Portion: “Sometimes it seems as if religion gets in the way of freedom. It has a forceful, coercing, commanding element, a residue of an old world which gets in the way of the new, free world. However, it is precisely at the epicenter of coercion, at Ma’amad Har Sinai (the Mt. Sinai Event) in our Portion, that we are given the hint that there is a deep story of freedom here. Yes, yes, freedom. Our Sages tell us: “There is no free person, but the one who studies Torah.” For what is freedom if not to battle the lowly behaviors that exist within each and every one of us, and prevail over them? What is freedom if not to approach the earthly matters and manage to behave in them with other values, by the values of eternity? To give of your money to charity, to sublimate the Yetzer (the evil inclination), not to speak Evil Tongue, to make your eating more refined, to be careful about other people’s possessions, to admit the truth and your mistakes, to ask for forgiveness and more deeds whose common denominator is that they go against the earth’s direction of motion and against the material reality. There is no greater freedom than this.
“It is not easy. Even those who have in hand a precise map, still must climb the mountain. But the Torah gives us a chance: a complete, comprehensive system, from childhood to old age, from the individual to the nation. At last there is a possibility, there are two sides. Until the giving of the Torah, only one side made his voice heard. Now, starting this week, we will also hear the voice of freedom.”