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Thirty seventh Day of the Omer

Pharaoh never understood Moses. For Pharaoh, the eved, the slave, was the lowest form of life, mere slave labour. For Moses, the eved was a full human being, with independence, dignity and worth. To be an eved Adonai a servant of God, was the highest calling and the greatest kind of freedom. It was the title bestowed on Moses himself at his death (Deuteronomy 34:5)

The new society Israel was to create had to be diametrically opposed to the slave state they had just left, a society in which all Israelites were free. “For they are My servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt -they shall not be sold as slaves are sold” (Leviticus 25:42)

The same theme is echoed in the middle ages by Judah Halevi “Servants of time, the slaves of slaves are they; The servant of the Eternal, they alone are free”

Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav expressed it even more bluntly: “If God is not your master, then man will be your master, and why be the slave of a slave?”

The morning blessings include the one which blesses God “who has not made me a slave”. In times of persecution and physical enslavement, people have questioned whether it was possible to recite this blessing. But from the tradition comes the answer that particularly at such time it is important to recite it. Outer forces may seek to enslave our bodies, but it remains our personal choice whether our hearts and souls are enslaved or remain free

Rabbi Dr Prof Jonathan Magonet


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