Why is the Torah compared by our sages to a marriage contract, to a ketubah?
One might suppose that they both limit freedom. Each constrains what a person may do, imposing obligations and restricting choices. But to see it this way is to misunderstand freedom. Freedom is the expansion of opportunity not the absence of obligation.
As an Eastern poet once put it, a violin string is free. But it cannot make music unless it is tied to a bow. A man alone in the desert is free. But the same person standing in the midst of a city, with appointments and obligations, is in fact freer, because there are more things he can do with his time and with his life.
Both the Torah and the ketubah are extensions of freedom. By enabling people to live lives of connection and of meaning, they do not cut off possibilities, but expand them. Sinai, the sages remind us, was like a chuppah. Under each we can become more fully who we were meant to be. Passover was the first step. Not until Sinai were the Jews fully free.
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @RabbiWolpe. His latest book, “David: The Divided Heart” (Yale University Press), has recently been published.