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Freedom Through Speech - בא

Thursday, 21 January, 2021 - 2:17 pm

Freedom Through Speech

“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech."

― Benjamin Franklin

From the perspective of the Kabbalah, spiritual liberation and freedom cannot exist without speech. 

When the Torah describes the suffering of the Jewish people in Egyptian slavery, the Torah states: 

Now it came to pass in those many days that the king of Egypt died, and the children of Israel sighed from the labor, and they cried out, and their cry ascended to God from the labor. (Exodus 2:23)

The Jewish people experienced terrible suffering. The verse describes the pain, the sighs, the crying, but the one thing the Jews could not do was speak. The people were enslaved not only physically but also psychologically. Not only was their body subjugated, but so was their soul; and when the soul is in bondage, one cannot speak. 

Speech is an essential component of the exodus. In the opening verses of this week's portion, the Torah emphasizes that as a result of the exodus, we will have the ability to speak to our children:

so that you tell into the ears of your son and your son's son how I made a mockery of the Egyptians, and My signs that I placed in them, and you will know that I am the Lord." (Exodus 10:2)

Indeed, the telling of stories is one of the most important commandments of the night of Passover. The Torah mandates: "And you shall tell your son". "Vihigadita", (and you shall tell), is the source of the word Haggadah, the story of the exodus read on Passover night. According to the Kabbalists, the word Pesach (Passover) consists of two words Peh Sach, a speaking mouth. Passover, the holiday of freedom, is the holiday of speech.  

The world was created through Divine speech, G-d spoke, and the world came into being. Divine speech is a metaphor for expression and revelation. An idea may exist in the mind, but until  it is expressed through speech, nobody can benefit from it, it is confined within its source (the mind). The same is true regarding G-d's creative energy. As long as the energy remains in a state of potentiality, it is concealed and confined. Divine speech indicates that G-d revealed his creative power from the state of potential into actuality. 

When a person senses the Divine speech, the G-dly energy within himself and within each creation, he is spiritually free. Exile begins when he no longer senses the Divine energy within creation; when he sees nothing other than random natural phenomenon; when he cannot tap into the spark of infinity within himself. If he no longer senses the Divine presence within his soul and within the world, he will submit to the confines of what he perceives to be all powerful laws of physical might, nature, and habit. 

Spiritual redemption begins when we perceive Divine speech, when we hear nature's song, when we sense our soul surging upward. When we sense the universe singing, we experience Pesach (Passover), Peh Sach, the talking mouth, unleashing creativity, joy, and optimism, which is the stuff of true freedom.  

Similarly, our soul is a reservoir of untold potential, a never-ending fountain of love, kindness, ideas, and creativity. Yet, often, our soul is in confinement. We feel empty, stone-like, irritated, or angry. The Kabbalah teaches that the way to free the soul's potential is through speech. Regardless of how we feel, we can speak words of kindness, love, and compassion. Words are liberating. The spoken word will draw the soul from concealment to revelation, from bondage to liberation.   

Next time you feel confined,next time you feel trapped, free yourself through speech. Take control of the narrative of your life. Speak words of gratitude, joy, and love. You will discover that words unlock the feelings trapped within your soul. 

Adapted from Ohr Hatorah, Vayikra 3, p. 736.  

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