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    Freedom – the day after

    The great achievement of Judaism was that it decided not to leave its ideals to theory.

    It believed in freedom but didn’t just talk or write about it. It turned it into an event, a public demonstration. It told the tale of freedom and reconstructed it.

    Jews re-lived it all, the enslavement in Egypt, the dream of liberation, the emergence into a new free world.

    Not that it left it at that. It did not limit itself to a crowd of ex-serfs standing outside the prison gates wondering what came next. It said, “Now you are free you have to have somewhere to go and something to do!”

    The test was not just leaving the prison and hearing the gates clang behind the Israelites. The test was what came next.

    And that is why the next stage was the journey to Sinai. Sinai gave the free people an agenda: now they were free and now they had a task which would prove what they could do with their freedom. They could regard every other human being as a person with dignity and rights.

    Sinai taught them to mean what they said on Pesach, “Whoever is hungry, come and eat with us; whoever is needy, come and share the world” – to say it, and make it into a way of life.

    This is freedom in practice, not just in theory. It joins Emma Lazarus in saying the words emblazoned on the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tossed, to me.”

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