Many people think that freedom means to be able to do everything all the time. The reality is that every time a person makes a choice to do something, that choice is limiting the person from doing anything else.
For example, if one chooses to go food shopping, they cannot go shoe shopping at that time. Freedom to do something is equally freedom to not be able to do something else. Part of becoming free will inevitably be limiting in some way.
To achieve freedom, one needs a guide for direction to see what one should be free to do and what one should be free not to do. Continually choosing to do the ‘to do’ and avoiding the ‘not to do,’ one truly has freedom. With this freedom, one can live life with a clear sense of direction, meaning and purpose. When all of that is achieved, the person will feel the benefits of being free as well as happiness and satisfaction.
The Mishnah in Avot teaches that the only free person is one who studies the Torah. The message is clear. Learning Torah gives a person direction and clarity. The Torah lays down in a very clear way what are the ‘to do’s and what are the ‘not to do’s.
Through the study of Torah, one can understand the ways of God and be blessed with a clear direction of choices and enjoy the meaningful and happy life of true freedom.
Rabbi Avrohom Tkatch is menahel of Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael of Atlanta.