Unless otherwise noted, "This week's Parsha" comprises articles taken from contributors to the Chabad.org website. We show the original author's name here, so that proper attribution is given. For the sake of brevity, footnotes cited in the original author's writings are omitted from this website. If you need to see the citations, please refer to the original articles on the Chabad.org website.
The Concept of Freedom
Everyone wants freedom. It is a basic human need. To some extent, even animals seek freedom and show signs of unhappiness if they do not have it.
However, the question of what freedom consists of has not been clearly answered. Many people spend their lives chasing something they call freedom. But at some point they may well turn round and say they have been deceived.
Our Parshah gives us a insight into the nature of our freedom. Perhaps it challenges some of our assumptions.
We all know that a central theme in Judaism is the fact that we escaped from the slavery of Egypt -- and reached "freedom." But in this week's Parshah G‑d says about us: "The Jewish people are My servants. They are My servants because I brought them out of the land of Egypt..." (Leviticus 25:55).
Of Sevens and Eights
"A bull, sheep or goat that is born to you shall remain under its mother for seven days. From the eighth day onward it is acceptable as an offering to G‑d" (Leviticus 22:27). Why does the Torah refer to the newborn animals by their mature names instead of the usual calf, lamb and kid? This teaches us that an animal is born with its entire potential already actualized. It cannot develop into something greater then it already is.
Its qualities will never erode, but its inherent faults will always remain.
Young At Heart
Not so for human beings. Man is always capable of more. Rabbi Akiva, for example, was forty years old before he learned to read Hebrew, yet he became the greatest Torah scholar in history. Every human being, background and affiliation not withstanding, can transform him or herself and thus make great strides forward.
What's So Terrible About Idolatry?
Why is Judaism so intolerant of idolatry? I don't mean massive temples with human sacrifices. What about a civilized idolater, in the privacy of his own home. With a job, a family, a mortgage, donates to the World Hunger Fund and Greenpeace -- and instead of one G‑d, he just happens to have two or three or even several dozen, all lined up on the dashboard of his car. Why does Judaism make a cardinal sin of it, demanding total eradication of idolatry in every corner the world? As long as it doesn't hurt anyone else, what's so terrible?