The Service of God
The concept of serving God, when it is defined in lowly terms, corresponds to a person’s limited understanding of what he means by God. It is the service of a slave.
It rises in stature to the same extent as his understanding of God will rise.
If a person should reach a state where his moral and intellectual powers have been duly developed, in accordance with his potentialities and the cultural climate of his time, yet his understanding of God remains on a low plain, then there will necessarily emerge into him a fierce opposition to the whole idea of serving God.
The only remedy to overcome this is to elevate his concept of God through deep feeling and comprehensive understanding of ever-increasing scope, at least paralleling his other perceptions of the great and the sublime…
As long as the concept of serving God is defined as a service directed to a particular being dissociated from the acknowledgment of the ideals which are an integral part of the very essence of the service, it will not free itself from the immature outlook which is always focused on particular beings. ..
The mature outlook calls for the formulation of divine ideals, to refine them, to try and strengthen them, and to actualize them in the life of the individual, of the nation and of the world.
….It is indeed well known, according to a deeper understanding of the Torah, even the names of God do not designate the essence of the divine, but rather the divine ideas ideals, …the attributes…..
This ideal concept will always broaden in the spirit and elevate it, while the concept of the slave-like service, which involves service to a particular being, detached from the ideals, …. narrows the spirit and lowers it.
The concept of service to a particular being without the affirmation of ideals which emanate from the divine source is the most primitive concept because it emerges from a childish stage of reasoning, at a time when a person does not yet distinguish between a particular being and it’s attributes. All his relationships seem to him, therefore, as directed only to a being in its aspect of particularity [detach from its attributes]. But after a person acquires the mature outlook, he realizes that every being in the world is to be comprehended only on the basis of attributes and one’s relationship to them. The concept of serving God, when conceived in this manner, also becomes more exalted. It invests the person with vitalizing energy.
– Rav A.I Kook
Eder Hayakar pp.145-149
[Translated by BenZion Bokser]