It has been interesting and emotional to watch as our nation and Europe marked the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion during WWII.
This heroic and painful endeavor turned the tide of the war in Europe and led to the eventual liberation of those on the continent who were under Nazi control. What we have learned since 1944 (and perhaps knew all along) is that liberation is not just a one-time event; just because the Nazi forces were pushed back and eventually surrendered does not mean that everything in Europe was rainbows and unicorns. There is a never-ending struggle to create, uphold and defend the institutions of freedom. There is also a recognition that freedom is not just for freedom’s sake; that liberty should be used for a higher goal to enrich the lives of those living under it, allowing for peace and justice to survive and thrive.
It is a meaningful coincidence that this milestone anniversary was celebrated just before the holiday of Shavuot. This holiday recalls the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai; that event is what the exodus from Egypt was all about. Freedom from Egypt was not just an exercise in liberty for the sake of running around the desert doing whatever we pleased. It was liberty in order to serve God and our fellow humans (rather than an earthly ruler like Pharaoh). Just as in Europe after the conclusion of WWII, this process is not over. It did not end when the sea closed in on the Egyptian Charioteers. It did not end when the Children of Israel received the Torah. It did not end when we entered the Promised Land. And it did not end when we went into exile. The work is never done.
The 75th Anniversary of D-Day and Shavuot are strong reminders to us that not only is the work of freedom never done, but that we must also remind ourselves for what purpose liberty has been won.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Shavuot Sameach!