My chavrusa (study partner), a respected rebbe in Yerushalayim, mentioned a disturbing conversation he had with one of his talmidim, who asked, “If marijuana is legal, why shouldn’t we smoke it?” In other words, why shouldn’t we be on drugs?
And now it is Shabbos Hagadol, the eve of Passover, the Season of Our Freedom.
From what were we freed in Egypt?
Recently, Rabbi Shlomo Bussu Shlita”h (grandson of the Baba Sali), was discussing the current generation. He said there is a terrible problem, namely that we tend to go through our lives mechanically. One can perform mitzvos without thought and pray without emotion.
My friends, how did our ancestors get out of Egypt? They screamed! They cried!
“The children of Israel groaned because of the work and they cried out. Their outcry … went up to G-d. G-d heard their moaning and G-d remembered the covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.” (Exodus 2:23-24)
We should remember that the greatest people in history were not afraid to cry. Yosef Hatzaddik (Joseph) cried: “Yosef … went into the room and wept there.” (Genesis 43:30). Dovid Hamelech (King David) cried: “Every night I drench my bed with tears!” (Psalm 6)
We are not allowed to be like robots. Torah greatness mandates emotion. The first place we put tefillin is next to our heart. “Rachmana liba boie … Hashem desires the heart.” (Rashi on Sanhedrin 106b) The sweetest people in the world are talmidei chachamim, great rabbis. They radiate the light of the Garden of Eden. This week in Yerushalayim I met two great Torah figures and I was overwhelmed by their sweetness. Where else do you find this in our entire world?
“The supreme G-d, Who … brings a Redeemer … with love!” (Shemoneh Esreh)
My friends, we must guard ourselves that we do not become – G-d forbid – a generation of robots and zombies, addicted to drugs, to technology and to pleasure. We cannot seek artificial happiness. We have to seek Reality, crying out to Hashem and awaiting His Redemption! As Rabbi Avigdor Miller zt”l says, “Sadness is essential in life,” because that is exactly what reminds us that the essence of life is not in this world. The essence of life is the World to Come.
We cannot be afraid of pain. There is abundant pain these days, but the days of Redemption will bring endless simcha, endless Shabbos, endless sanctity, endless oneness with the King of Kings. As we enter the Season of our Freedom, it is vital to remember from what we are freeing ourselves. We are freeing ourselves from slavery to the culture of the empty nations around us. We are freeing ourselves from a desire for a life of drugged happiness which is like death.
We are the Children of Israel, who are destined to meet the King of Kings, and for that we must be awake. “Wake up! Wake up! For your light has come …. Awaken! Awaken! Utter a song. The glory of Hashem is revealed upon you!” (Lecha Dodi)
May we all merit to experience true freedom and see the rebuilt Yerushalayim!