“And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh; and he said unto them: ‘Go, serve the LORD your G-d; but who are they that shall go?’
And Moses said: ‘We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds we will go; because the holiday of G-d is for us.’”
— Exodus 10:8-9
The King of Egypt must have been quite surprised by Moses answer. To serve G-d is not like serving you. It is not about degrading back-breaking slavery rather a joyful celebration for the whole family. To serve G-d is a joyous holiday for us.
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.” In other words, they fear that a life of mitzvot is about complete self-denial and surrender. They ask, “Isn’t it all about giving up what I want and doing something G-d wants?” But that is their ego talking, setting the soul and G-d against each other as if in a duel. In truth, every mitzvah is an opportunity to free yourself from the prison of ego–which separates your soul from the Soul of souls –and plug yourself into our Greater Shared Self — G-d.
“Serving G-d” is all about freely choosing to attune your will to the will of G-d; to bond with G-d and thereby serve to channel divine presence into the world. We enjoy a deeply meaningful life only when we make our lives a means to bringing the presence of G-d into the world.
Mitzvah is often translated as commandment, but that doesn’t do it justice. Mitzvah really comes from the Hebrew word that means “to connect” or “to unite.” The mistake many people make is to think of these commands as demands. They are not. A demand sounds depressing, while a command is in fact an invitation to commune, to join and connect, which is empowering and joyful.
Torah teaches that our will is a ray of the Divine will. The power that drives us on, the power we call life force, is will. It is the foundation of life; when we lose our will to live we die. The unique thing about human beings is that we have free will. The spark of the Divine will within us allows us that freedom. We are free to connect or disconnect our will to the eternal source of all will.
Torah life is all about connecting. When you choose to live the mitzvot you synchronize your individual will with the almighty will of G-d. In sync with G-d, attuned to the divine will, you then awaken to your true inner self and become totally alive in this world. Is there any greater reward?
To serve is a joyful celebration for the whole family.