Being a Servant is Actually Pretty Good

Ironic as this may sound, being Hashem’s servant is actually the most liberating way to live. The less of an independent existence we are, the more we allow Hashem to shine through us, and it’s much easier to overcome challenges and obstacles.

By Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier – The Beis Medrash

The shul was filled with palpable sincerity and emotion as the holy Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev led the davening on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. When they began the piyut “L’E-l orech din” (To the Almighty Who arranges judgment), the congregation wept, preparing themselves for judgment. The Rebbe’s voice became increasingly choked with tears, and by the time he reached the words, “To He who acquires His servants in judgment,” he froze, white-faced, in silence, as if in another world.

Moments later, color returned to his face and the Rebbe joyfully called out, “To He Who acquires His servants in judgment…to He Who has compassion on His people…To He Who watches over those who love Him…to He Who supports His sincere ones on the day of judgment!”

What happened? After davening, the Rebbe explained:

I saw the Satan in heaven, carrying sacks of sins. So many sacks. Things looked bleak. Suddenly, his keen eye spotted a Jew sinning on Rosh Hashanah, so he put down his sacks and went over to collect this giant, luscious sin. While the Satan was busy, I grabbed the opportunity to sift through his sacks. “How can Yidden be held accountable for these sins? After all, consider their poverty and suffering! Consider also the sheer ignorance in Torah. All of these galus circumstances have contributed to the Yidden becoming desensitized to sin. Can they be blamed?” The sins melted away in my hands and by the time the Satan returned, his sacks were emptied.  

“Thief!” he thundered. “Return them at once!” And, knowing the laws of thievery, he added, “And you have to pay double what you stole!” I explained that I no longer had the sins to return, let alone double. “In that case, I have the right to sell you as a slave.”

He offered me to the first angel he met. “What? Why would I want the liability of owning a Jew in galus?” scoffed the angel. “I’ll have to provide for him under such difficult circumstances.” So said each angel, until he had exhausted his options and offered me to the Almighty Himself, Who agreed. “Yes, I created this Jew and I want him as my servant. I’ll commit to caring for and protecting him.”

“And so,” the Berditchever concluded, “now that Hashem has agreed, we can all be His servants. All our sins will be dissolved and our needs met!”[1]


But who wants to be a servant?!

Ironic as this may sound, being Hashem’s servant is actually the most liberating way to live.

One of the reasons for blowing shofar on Rosh Hashanah is to remind us of Mattan Torah, where the Torah writes there was a “very powerful blow of the shofar.” Rosh Hashanah is a time to accept upon ourselves “naaseh v’nishma” as our ancestors did.

Hashem’s Torah gives us crystal-clear perspective on every area in life. Instead of being limited by human logic, we’re elevated to see the world from a Torah view. By following the Torah, our entire life becomes elevated. We remain above passing fads and we avoid endless mistakes and confusion because we follow the best plan possible. This is true liberty. 

The Torah was actually given on Shabbos, and this isn’t by chance. Shabbos also elevates a Yid; it pulls us out of the mundane and lifts us and everything that’s ours to a world of Shabbos KodeshHow fortunate are we to have a gift that literally unplugs and detaches us from the world we live in during the week? The “restrictions” of Shabbos liberate us.

Being a servant is actually pretty good. But there’s more.

On Rosh Hashanah, we crown Hashem as King and submit ourselves to be His servants. Chazal say, “The servant of a king is a king.” The servant’s entire being represents his master, so the greater his master is, the greater he is.

Accepting to be Hashem’s servants not only liberates us, as it would even if we had any great master, it gives us the unique status of royalty. In fact, the greater our submission to Hashem, the more we become a vehicle for His royalty. The less of an independent existence we are, the more we allow Hashem to shine through us. And when the King operates through us, it’s much easier to overcome challenges and obstacles.

Rosh Hashanah is when a Yid says, “I am Yours and therefore I am [one with] You.”

This year Rosh Hashanah falls out of Shabbos. Clearly, this year Hashem is giving us an extra measure of inspiration and strength to let go of all pretenses and allow ourselves to become His subjects and be elevated.

As Hashem’s servants, we also have to right to expect Hashem to meet all our needs. Hashem’s servants deserve to be healthy, have peace of mind, enjoy nachas from their children and have parnassah in abundance.[2]

[1] Shmuesin Mit Kinder vol. 2, pg. 271

[2] Likutei Sichos vol 24, pg. 618

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