Description: Chapter 6 - 07
Chapter 6 – 07
The Mishnah continues:
והלוחות מעשה אלוקים הנה והמכתב מכתב אלקים הוא חרות על הלוחות – אל תקרא חרות אלא חירות, שאין לך בן חורין אלא מי שעוסק בתלמוד תורה. וכל מי שעוסק בתורה תדיר הרי זה מתעלה שנאמר וממתנה נחליאל ומנחליאל במות
The luchos were made by Hashem, and the writing was Hashem’s handwriting, etched onto the luchos – don’t read ‘charus’, but ‘chairus’ because there’s no one free except a person who toils in Torah. Anyone who toils in Torah constantly is elevated, as it says ‘From the ‘present’ – the Torah – a person reaches – ‘bamos’ – meaning an elevated position.
Generally, the thought process is that accepting the ‘yoke’ of Torah, the ‘yoke’ of Heaven – ol Malchus Shamayim, is the opposite of freedom. When we subjugate ourselves to Hashem’s commands and His kingdom, we are actively proclaiming ourselves His servants, His slaves, and that would seem to be relinquishing our freedom. Why then is someone who toils in Torah the ultimate ‘free’ person?
The Baalei Mussar explain this point as follows. If a person is an actual slave, he has limited freedoms, it is true. When he is in jail, incarcerated, his freedom to go where he pleases is limited. However, every person, regardless of the factors which are beyond their control, regardless of the limitations placed upon them by others, have one freedom which can’t be taken away from them. That is the freedom of choice. Every person has bechirah chofshis, the freedom to choose as he pleases. This is the only true freedom to which every single man, woman, and child, is entitled to, and can’t be deprived of, under any circumstance. The other ‘freedoms’ or lack of them, are only ‘chitzoniyos’, limitations which are temporary and superficial – but the ‘pnimiyos’ the inner quality of freedom, is always in our hands, and can’t be taken away.
However, that freedom of choice can be limited or even totally taken away by one person only – and that is ourselves! We can remove our ability to make a free decision, based on what we truly want. How? If we become slaves to our base desires, to our physical self, to our yetzer horah. Once we allow those parts of ourselves to rule over our choices, we don’t really have the ability to choose. We would love not to eat so much, but we can’t help ourselves! We can’t control ourselves. We would love to remain calm and have more patience, but we lose our cool and lose our temper. Are we free? Hardly. If we would be free, we would have the ability to make that choice. The real freedom, the only truly inner freedom, which no person, no being can take away from us, can be reduced, limited, and totally removed – by our own desires and yetzer horah.
That’s why Chazal say, there is no true ben chorin, no true free man, who can make choices as he pleases, except someone who toils in Torah. The Torah affords us the ability to become elevated above our physical selves, as the Mishnah continues, that the person who toils in Torah becomes elevated. Once we are elevated above our physical selves, and have control over our desires and our impulses, we have the ability to choose our course of action. We can control our temper and our desire to eat, or to speak – we choose as we would love to choose! That’s true freedom.