I'm exhausted.

In the past few days, I've spent so many hours delivering hand-baked shmurah matzahs and Passover guides that the postal workers union has complained about me to the industrial relation commission. Whenever I did stumble home in a cloud of matzah crumbs, I was privileged with the opportunity to spend some quality time with my dear wife in her maniacal pursuits of scrubbing, scouring, polishing, sweeping, cleaning, washing and searching for every last crumb of chametz our darling children have dedicated their year to disseminating throughout the house...

Tonight I've been informed that, after I finish this article, I have a special treat to look forward to... I get to help with the cooking!

And they tell me that I'm doing this as preparation for the Festival of Freedom??!

What freedom means largely depends on who you are. To an animal, freedom means freedom of movement, the right to roam free unhindered by physical boundaries.

Humans demand more ethereal qualities to truly feel liberated. Provide a person with all his material needs but deny him freedom of expression and the liberty to think and feel as he chooses, and he will feel as enslaved as any confined animal. As every despotic regime has discovered, the human spirit rebels against intellectual or emotional shackles just as surely as against physical incarceration.

A Jewish soul demands its own particular articulation of freedom. True liberty is satisfied only by the autonomy to connect to G‑d through His Torah and mitzvot. The denial of Judaism to a Jew is to remove him from his natural milieu, the equivalent of dumping a fish onto the beach; it might give the impression of independent existence, might even flop around for a while in an uninhibited manner, but you call that living?

Just as a sea creature is only truly free when 'confined' to water so do we only truly live when living as Jews.

At first glance, many of our observances appear restrictive and demanding, but from an insider's perspective they are truly liberating. As one of the regulars in our community said to me a while ago, "The first Shabbat I kept properly was the toughest, most boring day of my life; by my third week, I couldn't imagine life without it."

Certainly, some rituals and traditions are tough. But the rewards are immeasurable—and liberating.

Now, back to the cooking....