No One Should Be a Slave Forever

In a world bombarding us with advertisements, media & information, it's easy to miss important things.  This is why I write provocative subject lines and titles to my blog.  To catch people's attention.

Last week, I attempted to communicate a deep idea about how the Torah concept of slavery can be applied in today's day and age.  To read the email, click here.  

I'd like to share some of the feedback I received.  Most of it was positive, but one person requested clarification, and another one felt it was offensive.  

Here is one of the responses, "That is a brilliant message, Rabbi! Unconventional on its face but very poignant when your point is understood. It mirrors the experience of my son. His 10 year addiction was abruptly ended through “slavery” in the form of the Salvation Army’s 6 month residential Adult Recovery Program. It probably saved his life and definitely turned his life around. Clean and sober for about 10 years now."  

Another fellow responded "Interesting email. Not sure the advice is very practical. Are you hiring? Lol. The Western institution it closely matches is called indentured servitude." 

Kabbalah teaches that the way out of a problem is the same way into the problem.  A biblical example of this is when Moses threw a bitter stick into bitter water to sweeten the water.  Numerous types of therapy for various dysfunctions use the problem as the solution.  Fascinating stuff.  

In our context, people use their freedom to become slaves to addictive substances and behaviors, giving up their free will.  Since freedom is what got them into slavery (drugs) in the first place, the key to regain their free will is by putting themselves back into slavery (programs like Salvation Army and Torah slavery).  

Of course I'm not recommending that governments start enslaving drug addicts.  That would be a slippery slope towards totalitarianism.  I'm recommending that, just as Torah recommends, people sell themselves into slavery once admitting that they can't handle freedom.  This is why it will never lead to government abuse, because the way to lose freedom (slavery), is precisely because of freedom (you have to sell yourself). 

In my opinion, this is an amazing takeaway point.  If you put yourself into slavery with your free will, even though you've lost it, you're still essentially a free person.  No matter how forgone you think you are, you can regain your freedom even if the only avenue there is by temporarily enslaving yourself.  The Torah prescribes a maximum of 6 years.  No one should remain a slave forever.

Shabbat Shalom, 

Rabbi Abrams


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