A Canadian friend watched my Freedom Rally speech on Facebook. She messaged me that it made her cry. “Literally bawling” was what she told me.
“Why did it make you cry so hard?” I asked her. Because finally, for the first time in eight months, she had a name for why she has been acting totally out of character. A name for what compelled her to give up her job. A name for why she became alienated from her own parents. A name for the reason she must live and breathe her truth at all personal cost. The name as it turns out, has a simple and familiar ring to it. It’s called freedom.
Freedom is to the soul what oxygen is to the body. Without freedom the soul gets smothered, turns blue, and dies a slow and painful death. Without freedom, human beings start to deteriorate into zombies.
She explained that hearing my impassioned words over the internet blew visceral relief into her soul, the relief that comes from pinning down a previously unnamed emotion. She could finally name this unrelenting need to express herself to anyone who will listen, a need that does not let her rest.
Like me, she used to be quiet. Like me, she used to be normal. Coronavirus woke up something fierce inside us. We both became accidental activists, unlikely bastions of freedom. We will continue screaming freedom from the hilltops because our souls are giving us no other choice. The most painful self-betrayal is to strangle the voice and liberty of your soul.
This beautiful woman across the Canadian border, a border we are no longer permitted to cross, is a kindred spirit. We found each other and we get each other. We both intuitively understood from the beginning that freedom is not something to be trifled with. Men and women died on battlefields holding up blood-stained flags of freedom. Freedom is a hard-earned gift bestowed by G-d Himself. Who are we to be so reckless with it?
Maybe our ancestors are tapping our subliminal minds with the following urgent message: “We lived and died to forge a country that was different than any that came before it. A country founded on the novel concept of a life free from the evil grip of tyranny. And you guys are letting it slip away? For what? A virus? You’ve got to be kidding us.”
Patrick Henry was not kidding when he declared in 1775, “Give me liberty, or give me death!” I used to think he was being dramatic or hyperbolic. Now I get it. I look around. What kind of life is this turning into? We are sliding down a steep slope of demoralization and degradation into the rank abyss of ever-increasing and confusing government mandates. We need to press our foot on the brakes, now.
The first threat to freedom is a five-alarm emergency. Freedom will shake you violently in the middle of the night and wake you when it feels threatened. Freedom knows it cannot be easily reclaimed once it’s been handed over like a five-dollar bill.
While people are being mindlessly distracted by inane and circular conversations about case numbers, quarantine, and “Did you get it yet?” they are not even noticing something bigger being snatched right out from under them. Something that will take a lot longer to recover than a sense of smell.
If this sounds like conspiracy theory to anyone, consider this: Noach was called a conspiracy theorist for 150 years until it started raining.
But I have good news.
Something hit me while I was writing my freedom speech for the rally. A daydream floated past my mind’s eye.
I caught it. It looked like this.
A few weeks after his landslide victory, a victory so huge it will not leave an inch open for debate, President Trump will stand squarely on the White House lawn. He will be smiling big, because he knows in his soul that he can’t stop winning. At the podium, he will announce two words that will instantly restore liberty and abruptly end mass coercion and soul suppression. Two words that you can answer back to anyone who tries to death shame the freedom right out of your hands.
Trump will simply announce the plain, sweet words, “Pandemic Over.” We will repeat those two words everywhere we go until freedom is restored.
Imagine how good that will feel. Like shackles cast off an innocent man’s ankles. All the leaders in all the countries will have no choice but to follow his unwavering lead. The fallen heroes of the battlefield will bless us from the other side. The freedom they lived and died for will not be in vain. The torch will be handed down to the next generation as it was handed to us. We will not be the generation that dropped it.
We all have a pasuk (biblical verse) that corresponds to the letters of our name. My name pasuk has been popping into my mind a lot these days. It goes like this: “Gol el Hashem darkecha, v’vetach alav, v’Hu ya’aseh—Reveal to Hashem your path, trust Him, and He will do it” (Psalms 37:5).
I remember the exact morning, three years ago, when the wording of this last sentence struck me. I was in Jerusalem. I had been randomly discussing my name pasuk with my sister on the phone. I told her how it suddenly hit me for the first time that I don’t have to get it all done; G-d will do all the heavy lifting for me. V’Hu ya’aseh. He will do it. I told her the relief that epiphany brought my soul.
I hung up the phone and headed down to the Kotel. In the Old City, I bumped into my friend’s mom. She pulled me in close and pointed to a store at the top of the Cardo staircase. She insisted, “It’s incredible, you must go.”
I went to the Kotel with my daughter, and on our way back up, those words echoed in my head. My daughter and I found the store. We went inside. I started talking with the owner, Mordechai. It was a store that sold paintings inspired by Tehillim. The artist had passed away years before; he had been a dentist. I loved hearing that.
The owner was showing me around. He told me that most people buy paintings that correspond to their specific name pasuk. A déjà vu feeling started creeping up my spine, that surreal divine redundancy sensation. Is this really happening? The next thing that happened is still hard for me to believe.
The owner nonchalantly turned to me and said, “My wife’s name is Geulah. She has the same name pasuk as you, but she struggles with that last part, the part of “v’Hu ya’aseh.” She thinks she is the one who has to do it all.” He stopped talking abruptly. Stunned and embarrassed by his spontaneous overshare, he said quietly to himself, “I’m not sure why I just told you that.”
But I knew.
Once in a while, Hashem orchestrates events so cleanly, lines up details so precisely, that all you can do is stumble away lightheaded. Hashem touches down a flash of Divine intimacy and for a hyper-vivid moment it’s only you and Him.
I hope the epiphany of V’Hu Ya’aseh will guide us into this coming week. Let us understand that it has always been and always will be Hashem doing the heavy lifting. It was He who took us out of Egypt. It is He who will never let us go back.
This is the reason many souls among us are tormented and shaken by this bizarre and sudden loss of freedom. Our souls have a deep cellular memory of what enslavement feels like and will never go back. Souls willing to go boldly against this new deranged normal in order to keep a foothold for freedom. We instinctively understand that bondage is a lot like falling asleep. It happens slowly, then all at once.
The middle part of my name pasuk is about trust. Whatever direction our timeline takes hinges on trust. We trust You, Hashem, to keep the momentum of this Year of Amazement going. We know it is You co-creating this life with us. “Ha’Yotzer yachad libam,” G-d shapes reality in real-time, together with our hearts.
It is also astounding that our president has overcome every evil plot hatched against Him. We understand that our president’s protection comes only through G-d’s constant doing. Massive human plotting to derail truth and liberty cannot withstand the force of Al-mighty G-d. May we continue to be the peaceful observers of the supernatural salvation that is happening all around us.
Dr. Gila Jedwab has been practicing dentistry for nearly two decades. She graduated from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in 2000 and completed her residency in general practice at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Her dental practice is in Cedarhurst.