What is Independence?
Independence: The quality or state of not being under the control of, reliant on, or connected with someone or something else.
There is independence on the micro-level of the individual and on the macro-level of a nation governing itself. The Jewish people have yearned to be independent in their own country since our forefather Abraham set out for the promised land. This became more felt or urgent when we were enslaved in Egypt.
We cried for freedom from our masters and Pharaoh.
When we were freed, there was a condition:
So that we can worship our G-d and choose to enter a mutual covenant together.
This is more like freedom with “strings attached'' or freedom with a purpose, and not just to be free to do whatever we like.
When we were freed from slavery, we were physically free, but were still psychologically dependent with fears and anxiety about the future.
The people felt insecure. They kvetched and cried and actually wanted to go back to Egypt and be dependent on their masters once again! It was a long process to become an independent nation.
But independence is not always a positive virtue. It’s okay to rely on other people, and fitting into a society or community that is benevolent is also positive.
Building a thriving nation isn’t possible without cooperation and mutual assistance.
There are countless ethnic groups in Israel from a wide range of backgrounds and mother tongues. It’s not utopia , but I can honestly say that the feeling of community and peoplehood is like no other place I have been. Coming as an immigrant with no family was like no challenge I’ve ever faced. And yet, I wasn’t really alone. The stranger on the street asking me if my baby was warm enough, the neighbor asking me if I needed anything while my husband was away, the delicious meals from my synagogue after I gave birth, the group of army parents supporting each other while our sons served together, and so many more.
The saying it takes a village means that many people must cooperate to achieve a goal.
You don’t forfeit your own independence completely, but rather harness it with others towards a common good. That is what we’ve accomplished here in 74 years. Happy Independence Day! יום עצמאות שמח