Parshas Behaloscha: The True Servant

לא כן עבדי משה בכל ביתי נאמן הוא

Not so with My servant Moshe; he is trusted throughout My household


A king will have many different types of trusted servants in his palace. There is the servant that can be trusted with everything. It will not matter if the king is watching over him or not. Even if given the keys to all the treasuries, this servant can be trusted. This servant has been tested and proven. בכל ביתי נאמן הוא- he is trusted throughout My household.  If the king needs to go away, the king is unafraid that the servant will rebel in the king’s absence. If the king takes the servant with him, he is not worried that if this servant is behind him, he will run away.

There is another type of servant that is also trustworthy, but not like the first one. Deep down, his desire is to honor the king, but if the test is too difficult he may fail. If he is behind the king so that the king cannot see him, he may rebel. For this servant, the king can keep him at his side in close proximity and that should be enough to keep him at bay.

But then there is the third type of servant that cannot be trusted at all. If you give him a finger, he will take a hand. He awaits the moment that the king will look away from him, so that he can rebel. This servant always needs to be directly in front of the king.

The Navi Yirmiya writes (2:2) הלך וקראת באזני ירושל͏ם לאמר כה אמר ה' זכרתי לך חסד נעוריך אהבת כלולתיך לכתך אחרי במדבר בארץ לא זרועה- Go proclaim to Yerushalayim: So said Hashem: I recalled your favor of the devotion of your youth, Your love as a bride- How you followed Me in the desert, in a land not sown. At that very moment, Bnai Yisroel’s level was that of an עבד נאמן- a trusted servant that had gone through so many tests and yet, they were willing to follow HaShem, even after the King. Rav Menachem Mendel of Kossov (Ahavas Sholom) commented that this explains the possuk in Devarim (31:8) וה' הוא ההלך לפניך הוא יהיה עמך לא ירפך ולא יעזבך לא תירא ולא תחת- And it is indeed HaShem  who will go before you. He will be with you—and will not fail you or forsake you. Fear not and be not dismayed. If one merits that HaShem “goes” in front of him, i.e. if one is a complete servant of HaShem, so much so, that it can be said upon him that he is a true עבד ה'; One that would certainly follow when HaShem is in front- on this level, certainly HaShem will be with him, keep him and protect him from all the enemies, sustaining him with material and spiritual wealth.

But why should it be that the two are related? By gaining the appellation of עבד ה', suddenly, this means that everything in life is taken care of? The answer is yes!

I heard from Rav Y.M. Stern that the Lev Simcha used to recount how two chassidim came to the Imrei Emes with complaints. They said that the Sfas Emes instructed them to have tremendous kavana while reciting the words אנא ה' during Hallel, and this would cause them to see tremendous salvations. A few days later, it was the first day of Rosh Chodesh. With great excitement and exuberance, the chassidim poured out their hearts, with tears flowing as they said the words אנא ה' הושיעה נא, but nothing happened that day. The next day at hallel, they thought that perhaps it was the next possuk, אנא ה' הצליחה נא. Once again, they threw themselves entirely into the tefillah, and yet again, the results were not there. A few days later, the Sfas Emes passed away, so they could not return to him to report.  They now came in front of the Imrei Emes (the grandson of the Sfas Emes) for an explanation. He explained that they completely misunderstood the words of the Zaida. He was referring to another אנה ה' in Hallel. Dovid Hamelech writes:  אנה ה' כי אני עבדך- please Hashem, because I’m your servant. A yid must remember at all times and in every situation that he is a servant of HaShem. When he lives that way, he is not missing anything at all because his Master, Hakadosh Boruch Hu knows what His servant needs and will surely provide it.

Of course, אנה ה' כי אני עבדך –there is more to being a servant of HaShem than just singing Carlebach’s song with tightly closed eyes. This means that there is an awesome responsibility and obligation to do the will of HaShem in all situations and times. During the summer or winter, in the business or at home, שויתי ה' לנגדי תמיד- I place HaShem in front of me at all times. As we explained earlier, HaShem in front of me means that I am following even behind; when I think that no one is looking.

Good Shabbos, מרדכי אפפעל