The dictator, the control freak, or the abusive spouse or parent, does not know how to give others freedom. He (or she) feels compelled to force others into the mold that he has created for them. Uncomfortable in his own skin, he is afraid that someone will overshadow him, expose his weaknesses, usurp his position or make him feel extra in this world. Outwardly he attempts to appear powerful, but inwardly his power is a symptom of inner misery and confinement.
Only when one learns to embrace others, not for whom he would like them to be, but for whom they are, can he begin to embrace himself, not for whom he wishes he was, but for whom he is. When we free those around us, we are freeing ourselves. By accepting them, we learn to accept ourselves.
In a fascinating narrative in the book of Jeremiah chapter 34, we read:
Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying: So says the Lord G-d of Israel; I made a covenant with your fathers on the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slaves, saying: “At the end of seven years you shall let go every man his brother Jew who has been sold to you, and when he has served you for six years you shall let him go free from you.”
Isn’t that incredible?! While the Jews were just coming out of Egypt G-d made a covenant with them to let others go. G-d was teaching them that if you want to be free within yourself you must learn to not control others. That control does not make you more powerful, it makes you smaller and weaker. This understanding was taught to the Jewish people even before they left Egypt having just served as slaves themselves. The Exodus from Egypt’s ultimate completion depended on this recognition.
With blessings for freedom! Menachem Mendel Bluming of Potomac, Maryland and Rabbi Jacobson