My teenage years were spent thirsting for a big idea. I was searching for something that would catch my imagination. Although I went to an Orthodox Jewish school, there was nothing I was taught that fired my passion. In fact, by the age of sixteen I was rather apathetic about Judaism. Then I took to studying Chassidic philosophy. All of a sudden I had found the big idea I was looking for. Here was an ideology that was far-reaching and all-encompassing. To me it was revolutionary; it talked about connecting to the Divine; it spoke about intellectualism and it demanded change. Suddenly my Judaism had meaning, it was something I could be passionate about. To this day Kabbalah-based Chassidic philosophy has a major influence on everything I do.

Life is dry and meaningless without an all-encompassing ideology. Unfortunately, so many in the West seem to lack such an ideology. This is not because the ideas do not exist—they do. Indeed, in the age of the internet ideas are more readily available than ever before. The problem is that the ideologies no longer excite us.

Britain is currently in the throes of a general election campaign. However, surveys show that young people are apathetic about politics. This should come as no surprise—none of the major political parties has been propagating novel ideas. They all have big ideas, such as democracy and the welfare state—some of the most powerful ideas known to man—but the ideas are not novel; they have become commonplace and therefore unexciting. As one commentator noted, "Today we live in a world where we have had all the debates and democracy has won the day. Nowadays common sense prevails and the arguments are over the details rather than over the big ideas themselves." This is a serious problem because apathy is the biggest threat to any idea—it leaves room for other ideologies to creep in and take its place. So how can one keep big ideas alive even after they are no longer new and exciting?

Interestingly, one of history’s most famous revolutionaries faced the same dilemma. When Moses led the Israelites to freedom from the Egyptian house of bondage, he transformed a nation. Moses did not just take the Israelites out of slavery, he took the slavery out of the Israelites. He changed their philosophy from one based on the ideology of subjugation to one predicated on the philosophy of liberty.

It is therefore fascinating that, in his first major speech after the liberation, Moses did not offer fiery rhetoric about the virtues of freedom; rather, he gave a speech commanding the fledgling nation to remember the day of emancipation each year. In Exodus 13, he instructed them that when they eventually entered the Holy Land they should celebrate a seven-day festival commemorating this momentous event. Inbuilt in this festival is the commandment to educate one's children about what happened in Egypt and how G‑d emancipated them from the house of bondage: "And you shall tell your son on that day..."

Moses knew that as soon as the Jewish people entered the Holy Land they would become comfortable and complacent; they would take their freedom for granted. Since the emancipation from Egypt is central to the philosophy of Judaism, this prospect was an existential threat. To avoid this eventuality, Moses ensured that the Jews would forever be cognizant of the two alternate ways of living—freedom and subjugation.

The yearly festival of Passover reminds us of the intense suffering slavery brought and prompts us to realize the value of freedom so that we do not take it for granted. The true beauty of any object or idea can be appreciated only when it is compared to an inferior object or idea. By comparing freedom and slavery on the Seder night each Passover, the Jewish people become reenergized about the concept of freedom.

If apathy is to be combated, if passion and excitement are to be injected into old but powerful ideologies, people must be continuously reminded of how it contrasts with the alternative inferior ideology. In Judaism this is built into the religion. Unfortunately, in other societies it takes wars and ghastly terrorist attacks to have a similar effect. There is indeed much that modern-day political leaders can learn from the greatest visionary and political leader of all time.