A number of years ago while I was working in my office a person called and offered me a free television set. It sounded like a good deal, so I accepted. But as I was about to give him my shipping information, he continued with a bit more information. Television was free if I bought 
500 cases of trash can liners.

That struck me as a bit odd. In my dictionary, the word "free" has a very specific meaning. Remarkably, buying 500 cases of anything was not part of that definition. So I stopped him and asked for further details about what I had considered such a kind offer, namely a  free  television. His response was rather telling, "free does not mean without cost." I decided this call was not the time to have a deep discussion about the meaning of words. So, with his caveat explanation and knowing neither I nor my synagogue needed that many trash can liners, I declined his no-longer-so-kind offer.

As I've considered that incident over the years, issues of stretching the truth or possible violations of sales laws notwithstanding, his explanation had a kind of Biblical precedent. It's certainly worth our considering as we get ready to celebrate Passover this year. Twice each day that kind of reasoning is presented in the final words of Shema. We are told to put  tzitzit  on the corner of our garments, " ... you shall be reminded to observe all My commandments and to be holy to your God. I the Lord am your God,  who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God : I, the Lord your God." Freedom from Egypt was not free. There was a purpose to God's gift of physical freedom: to serve God.

The gift of freedom is not free. The opportunity to serve God, to be part of an ages-old family, to do our part to make the world a better place for all its inhabitants is what we need to put into our daily lives.

Susie joins me, as well as the entire TAY staff, in wishing you and yours a sweet, meaningful Passover.

Rabbi Paul Drazen
rabbidrazen@adath.org
(315) 445 - 0002 x121
450 Kimber Road
Syracuse, NY 13224
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