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Parshas Bamidbar 5759

Outline Vol. 3, # 22

by Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein

This issue has been dedicated in honor of the Bas Mitzvah of Sage Jennifer Aidekman, by her cousin, Brachah.

Our discussion last week dealt with developing a spontaneous, enthusiastic approach to service. Several people questioned the relationship between the desire to serve, and the objective responsibility to serve.

The truth is that the desire to serve, and the recognition of the responsibility to serve, go hand-in-hand. The Shema states: "You shall love Hashem with all your heart, soul and might." The Rabbis said, "There is no comparison between the one who serves out of fear, and the one who serves out of love..."

Shortly afterwards, the Torah commands, "You shall fear Him..." How is it possible to both love and fear? The Rabbis comment, "Only in regard to the qualities of Hashem do you find love and fear in the same place..." Hashem (by way of analogy), embodies all positive attributes. He, alone, knows the proper balance between affection and strictness.

Yet, we are to strive to emulate Hashem, and -- through the service -- it is possible to adhere in some degree to a combination of love and concern. So we ask in the brochos to the Shema: "Unite our hearts to love and fear your name..."

The point is that a true relationship entails a concern, lest one harm the relationship, and a strong, positive binding force.

To serve through coercion, out of necessity, can be little more than half-hearted. It is the zest, creativity and inspiration that transforms mechanical motion into animated service.

Still, the service is something we must do. The great Chasidic leaders and the Lithuanian Roshei Yeshivos stressed the importance of serving every day, even when we don't feel inspired. It is precisely when we don't feel like it, that the challenge takes on new dimensions...

The secret of inspiration is "chidush" -- to find something new. "Today -- upon your heart," states the Shema. The Rabbis explained: "Every day the words must seem new." Study, with an eye to finding something new, breeds constant inspiration; today -- every day -- cause the words to be newly inscribed upon your heart!

Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein
11 Kiryas Radin
Spring Valley, NY 10977
Phone: (914) 362-5156

Good Shabbos!

Text Copyright © '98 Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein and Project Genesis, Inc.



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