In this week’s Torah Portion we are commanded to bring pure oil to the tabernacle to light the Menorah (candelabra).
“And you (Moses) shall command the children of Israel, that they bring to you pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually.” (Exodus 27:20)
The Midrash, which part of Jewish Oral Tradition, asks an obvious question. The entire world is illuminated by G-d’s splendor and G-d tells the Jewish people to bring oil to light the Menorah before Him? The Midrash answers that G-d desires the works of your hands.
How can we understand that G-d desires the works of our hand?
How can G-d want something from us?
What can we give G-d?
Does G-d lack anything that we can provide?
The Kabbalah teaches that G-d created the world to give us goodness and yet it seems from the Midrash that G-d is not looking to give but really wants to receive. How can this be?
The Kabbalah explains that the greatest goodness that G-d gives us is Himself. And that’s because G-d is not a good being in the sky rather G-d is the epitome of all good. G-d is wisdom, love, kindness, every kind of goodness and infinitely beyond. Serving G-d means serving the greatest good, and bringing good to the world. There is no better feeling than serving the greater good. And therefore serving G-d, Who is the greatest good, is for our greatest good.
G-d’s greatest gift to us is the opportunity to serve and thereby bond with Him, the Ultimate Good. This is why serving G-d is the greatest joy.
People have it all confused. They think that G-d is some cosmic ego maniac Who wants to enslave everyone and demands that we do it with joy. G-d is just a selfish cosmic dictator Who wants us all to serve Him with a smile. This is ridiculous.
The life of commandments is not a life of bondage to G-d, but rather a life of bonding with G-d. There is no greater joy.
On one hand people think that G-d is a slave driver and yet one the other hand they treat G-d like He is their waiter. They turn to G-d only when they need or want something, as if G-d is there just to fulfill our needs, do tricks and make our life easier. Is a relationship with G-d about what you can get from G-d or what you can give to G-d?
G-d’s gift to us is the gift of giving to G-d, the opportunity to serve G-d and bond with the Ultimate Good.