Devorah First
This moment, I am (trying to be) here.

The Lesson from the Liberty Bell

B’siyata Dishmaya

A couple of months ago I spent the day touring the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Touring cities isn’t particularly one of my favourite pastimes, and History wasn’t the most interesting subject for me when I was in school- mountain ranges, lakes, forests, fields; that’s more my speed. But it was more about the company, and I was happy to see what the City had to offer nonetheless. Before we began our day, I looked heavenward and sent a small prayer up- requesting that, as I explored the different museums, monuments, streets and historical figures; I would be able to grasp a deeper message or two that I could takeaway, internalise, and then share with others to perhaps illuminate our path just a little, as we continue to walk along this very narrow bridge of life, which can oftentimes be confusing, dark and lonely.

Chief among the lessons I have learnt from our chassidic masters, is that one can always look beyond the surface, look broader, higher, deeper. Finding the inner dimension of everything we lay our eyes on.

I opened my lips. Ha’Shem granted me my request.

I hope I can use the excuse of being born and bred in the UK, and not being (sorry friends in the US) too interested in American History, but I had never heard of the Liberty Bell before stepping foot in Philadelphia.

My friend and I walked through the security scanners, had our bags checked, and I was somewhat eager to find out what the big deal with this relatively small historical landmark was all about.

Amazingly enough, although not particularly surprising- there is (in English) a passuk, a verse from the third book of the Torah, sefer Vayikra inscribed on the bell. “Proclaim liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants Thereof (25:10).

I smiled. Torah is true. Torah is timeless. Torah is always the answer. Ashreinu.We are so, so fortunate.
First takeaway.

From the lip to the crown, the bell measures three feet. About a quarter of the way down from the top, in the centre, lies a huge, whopping crack.

Yes, a crack. Take a look.

For sure- the historical usage of this bell breeds its significance. But the talking point? The attraction? The quality, the pull; I can’t be certain, but if this bell was perfectly perfect- I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be as endearing, striking, famous- and cause over a million people to visit it every year. Historians are still unclear why and when the crack appeared. They did in fact attempt to repair it, and the repair job didn’t go down too well either! Alas, the Master Planner had other plans and the crack still remains, rendering it unusable.

The bell hangs mute, but the message rings loud and clear. A message I personally need to keep hearing, over and over again.

Show your cracks, express your insecurities, share your failures, fears, flaws, set backs.

The right people won’t reject you. They will appreciate you for it. Relationships become deeper, more profound, more genuine. Easier. Lighter. You aren’t carrying ‘another you’ on your shoulders the whole time.

Be like the liberty bell.

And if this is something you have a hard time doing – share that with someone. Share that with someone! That’s honesty, that’s transparency, that’s vulnerability.

And that would be an excellent start. It is from this place that the soil for true connection,  acceptance, love and change can be nourished.

In just 72 hours we will be entering into the glorious holiday of Pesach. The Yom Tov of freedom. Each of us have something we desperately want to break free from. So many of us are chocked by the shackles of perfectionism. Friends, take a lesson from the liberty bell. Break free from the trap of perfection. It’s ok. Break free from the trap of pretending to the world ‘I’ve got everything figured out’.

Because none of us do.

I certainly don’t. She doesn’t and he doesn’t, and no, they don’t either.

None of us do.

זִֽבְחֵ֣י אֱלֹהִים֘ ר֪וּחַ נִשְׁבָּ֫רָ֥ה לֵב־נִשְׁבָּ֥ר וְנִדְכֶּ֑ה

The sacrifices God desires are a spirit that is broken and humbled

{ Tehillim (Psalms) 51:19}

Be broken. Be humble. Break free.

It isn’t called the liberty bell for nothing.

My tefillah, my prayer, is that the Master of the World, grant you and I the courage and humility to share our cracked selves with others, for them to do the same with us, and that He gift us with those people in our lives.

“זִֽבְחֵ֣י אֱלֹהִים֘ ר֪וּחַ נִשְׁבָּ֫רָ֥ה לֵב־נִשְׁבָּ֥ר וְנִדְכֶּ֑ה”

Hug these precious words of Dovid Ha’melech tight. Very tight indeed.

Chag Kosher V’Sameach to one and all!

* [The Piaseseczner Rebbe- Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira Hy”d (20 May 1889–3 November 1943)  lists specific chapters in Tehillim to be recited when a wave of sadness washes over a person. One of these chapters is sepcifically 51. (Hachsharaas Ha’Avreichim, Chapter 9) ]

About the Author
Debs currently lives in Manchester, England where she grew up. During the COVID pandemic, Debs had the privilege to spend time delving into teachings from our chassidic masters, and now feels passionately about sharing these delicious and life saving teachings with others, especially teenagers. Having spent last year in Israel working as a madricha in Neve Yerushalayim, she is back in the UK (for now) surfing the oftentimes stormy waves of life, and finishing her first book which she is working on, b'ezras Ha'Shem. Stay tuned!
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