Freedom From, Freedom To

Image: Woman dancing before the sunset. Photo by jill111/pixabay.

How is this Shabbat different from all other Shabbats?

This Shabbat falls within the week of Passover, the festival of freedom. Our ancestors were not free to keep Shabbat in Egypt – their work week was 7 days, like everyone else in the ancient world. Only after we left Egypt were we free to take on that mitzvah, the mitzvah to rest once a week.

Everyone else thought it was laziness. We have records of Greeks and Romans talking about the peculiar habit of the Jews, and they believed it showed that Jews were morally inferior.

Certainly the robber barons and bosses of the Gilded Age in the United States thought it was nothing but laziness, when labor leaders (many of them Jewish) argued for a five day work week that would allow Jews and Christians to keep their Sabbaths.

Free people are free to keep Shabbat. Now, in our new Gilded Age in the 21st century, as rich and poor slip farther and farther away from each other, Shabbat may seem a luxury few can afford. For others, addiction to electronics may make it extremely difficult to unplug.

This Shabbat, it’s time to ask ourselves, to whom or what am I enslaved? What can I do about that?

Whom have I enslaved? Is there anyone I underpay? Anyone of whom I take unfair advantage? Anyone I expect to drop everything for me, because I am, well, me? What can I do about that?

This Shabbat, as we rest, or as we are unable to rest, we can ponder the realities of our lives.

A Shabbat Shalom to all my readers, and to all, moadim l’simchah, may you enjoy these remaining days of Pesach!

Published by


Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

One thought on “Freedom From, Freedom To”

Leave a Reply to Ancient SkiesCancel reply