Freedom and Responsibility in Jewish Tradition
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"It is no coincidence that Passover is the first of the pilgrimage festivals: it embodies the foundation of human freedom and consequently of moral responsibility for every individual and societal act." (Peninei Halakhah, Pesach 1:2:6) The Passover story that we are about to retell around our seder tables is the central tale of our people gaining our freedom from slavery in ancient days. In Jewish tradition, one cannot speak of freedom without also considering the responsibilities that come with it for ourselves, for our neighbors, and for our world. We will spend three nights exploring these themes, one with each rabbi:
"For You Were Strangers in the Land of Egypt" with Rabbi Julie Bressler - Wednesday March 3 at 7:15-8:30 pm
This phrase is one of the most repeated phrases in the entire Torah, which implies that the experience of being slaves/strangers in Egypt significantly informs what it means to be a Jewish person. How do we understand this idea in contemporary times? How has it influenced our understanding of our responsibility to ourselves and to others in our world that is both increasingly connected and polarized?
"Who's Responsible...Humans or God" with Rabbi Todd Markley - Tuesday, March 9 at 7:15-8:30 pm-
In our Passover story, the Torah tells us after each of the first several plagues that Pharaoh hardened his heart and prevented the Isrealites from departing. In the final plagues, God is said to have hardened Pharaoh's heart. Which is it, and what do these passages have to teach us about God's will and human freewill in Jewish tradition?
A Love Story: Freedom and Responsibility with Rabbi Jay Perlman - Thursday, March 18 at 7:15-8:30 pm
Jewish tradition is rich in teachings that acknowledge human freedom, on one hand, and human responsibility, on the other. The embrace of covenant, by definition, places a limit on our freedom. And yet, our rabbis consistently framed covenant in the language of love – between God and the people. Join us as we explore how Jewish philosophers over the centuries have wed freedom and responsibility. As well, we will consider how we, personally, find the most meaningful balance between freedom and responsibility.