LIBERTY AND INDEPENDENCE
L’Shanah HaBa’ah B’Yerushalayim or “next year in Jerusalem”, I believe is more than a centuries old aspiration or hope, that continues to urge our people never to give up faith. By serving as a link between two auspicious days on the Jewish calendar, separated by exactly six months, L’Shanah HaBa’ah B’Yerushalayim, intoned at the completion of reading the Haggadah and at the end of Yom Kippur, serves to inextricably link the complementary messages of Pesach and Yom Kippur. While Pesach is our festival of national liberty, Yom Kippur is a day of personal independence. The former reminds us that as the Children of Israel, we no longer have to answer to another nation that exercised complete control over us; the latter reminds us that as a Child of Israel, each, must now answer for oneself. It is the individual and no one else, who is responsible for himself or herself.
Barring self-destructive behavior – emotionally or psychologically – liberty typically can only be achieved through separation. Politically, attempts are made by the masses or by rebel forces to overthrow oppressive governments. Alternately, individual citizens seek to escape the repressive system under which they live and ask for asylum from a democracy. So too with family relationships. Children are determined to leave home so that they no longer need to endure overbearing and domineering parents. For some time now, divorce has become a viable and acceptable alternative to an insufferable spouse. Not so independence. Unlike liberty with separation as its prerequisite, independence comes about through melding. Once liberated from the antagonist, the individual or the political entity must muster all energy and pool all available resources to ensure that there is now self- reliance. For without self- reliance, there can be no independence. Independence is the corollary to liberty.
Independence is dependent upon liberty. Without liberty, independence is an exercise in futility. When the Thirteen Colonies declared their independence from British rule 244 years ago, King George III responded, that the colonies will remain under the British, and that any declaration of independence is an act of treason. It was not until 1789, after 13 years of bloody battle, when the last of the British troops withdrew and that freedom was able to ring throughout the colonies that George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States of America. Liberty without independence results in chaos. Liberty serves as the necessary bridge between being deprived of responsibility and being able to develop responsibility. It was one thing for our biblical ancestors to be liberated from Egyptian tyranny; it was quite another thing for our biblical ancestors to become a nation capable of governing themselves. Independence can only be achieved once there is liberty. Otherwise independence remains a fantasy. Liberty without independence results in chaos. Independence without liberty is a pipe dream. Perhaps better stated, independence is the converse of liberty
It was never planned that way, but prior to immigrants to this country arriving by passenger jet, they traveled by ship. Those who landed at Ellis Island, would without fail, sail past the Statue of Liberty. Usually, it was only after setting foot on American soil, that these immigrants would experience their very first Independence Day celebration. Although it would fall on deaf ears, the implicit message to these new Americans was that liberty precedes independence.
As Americans, let us never take Independence Day for granted. Let us bear in mind, that our liberties were dependent upon freeing ourselves from British control, while our independence is predicated upon the way we as a nation, control ourselves. Let us understand that neither liberty nor independence can exist by itself, and that each needs the other. Liberty by itself is hazardous; independence by itself is a delusion. Let us realize that the liberties that are ours, are necessary but insufficient unless they result in independence. Were that not the case, come July 4th, we would be celebrating Liberty Day or Freedom Day, but not Independence Day.