“…your sin will find you.” ~ Numbers 32:23
Unfortunately, many people think “serving G-d” is submitting to an egomaniacal deity who dwells in heaven and demands, “You must serve me! Obey my commandments and do them with a smile! Or else I will punish you.” But that the meaning of service according to the Torah. To serve G-d means to experience complete connection to the source of all life and channel divine presence into the world.
Many people resist a lifestyle dedicated to serving G-d only because they don’t understand that G-d is the source of all being, all energy, all values and ideals. To serve G-d means to embody and channel into the world G-d’s love, wisdom, understanding, kindness, justice, compassion, beauty, truth, peace, etc. When you act mercifully, you are serving to make manifest the source of all mercy. When you act intelligently, you are serving to make manifest the source of all intelligence. And when you serve justice, you are serving to make manifest the source of all justice. You experience the joy of ultimate meaning when you make your life a means to an end greater than yourself. But when you make your life the be all and end all then that is the end of your life.
The mitzvas are not simply ways to earn reward and avoid punishment. Rather, they express our true divine essence ¬ who we really are and who we are a part of ¬ in the language of human behavior. When we behave in dis-accord with the mitzvas, we block out G-d’s presence from our world. Conversely, when we behave in a way that expresses G-d, we become a channel for G-d’s presence and fill the world with blessing.
When we betray G-d, we are ultimately betraying ourselves. It is for this reason that when Adam sinned, he and Eve ran and hid behind a bush. As the Torah relates, G-d called out to Adam and said, “Where are you?” The question was rhetorical. What G-d was really saying to Adam and Eve was, “Where are you? You betrayed yourself.” Our wrong doings are self¬-betrayals. They not only fail to manifest G-d in the world but they also prevent us from expressing and experiencing who we really are.
All wrong doing is based on being someone we’re not, whether we know it or not. We will not be punished for our sin but by our sins. Nor will we be rewarded for our service but by our service. Being who we are; experiencing our connection to G-d is paradise itself.