On the expression in the Torah “Harut al haluhot” (Exodus 32:16), which means “Engraved [harut] on the Tablets [of the Law],” the Rabbis say: “Do not read the word as harut, but as herut [freedom], for the only person who is truly free is he who occupies himself with Torah” (Eruvin 54a).
This paradox is the paradox of freedom itself.
For he who does not occupy himself with Torah—indeed, he who does not have Torah—does not have a life of his own.
It makes no difference whether the yoke of foreign enslavement is evident or not.
For what will he do with this freedom when there is nothing he really wants for himself?
He will naturally enslave himself once more to whomever will be willing to be his master and tell him what to do and how to act.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz