Parashat VeZot HaBerakhah- Ivdu Et HaShem beSimhah!
5. And Moshe, the servant of HaShem, died there, in the land of Moab, by the mouth of HaShem.
ה. וַיָּמָת שָׁם מֹשֶׁה עֶבֶד יְהֹוָה בְּאֶרֶץ מוֹאָב עַל פִּי ה':
Over Sukkot, I couldn't help but to keep humming (okay, singing out loud—like, real loud) the song to 'Ivdu et HaShem beSimhah'—Serve HaShem in Happiness. Of course the emphasis of this pasouk is placed on the word 'HAPPINESS' by most people, even me, but I want to focus a little on the word 'Ivdu'—'Serve'.
At the end of his life, HaKadosh Barukh Hu refers to Moshe Rabbenu as an 'Eved HaShem' the 'Servant of HaShem'. In the pasouk that informs us of Moshe Rabbenu's passing, this is the way HaShem wants him to be seen and remembered as—a servant of HaKadosh Barukh Hu. What does this mean? Out of all things, a servant? Not a trustee? A confidant? Rav Elchanan Wasserman brings a Rada''k that explains that just as a servant is there to always fulfill his mater's every wish, this is how Moshe Rabbenu served HaShem—HaShem's will was Moshe Rabbenu's will, there were no questions. Moshe served HaShem with his entire self—his heart, Neshamah, body, abilities and volition. It wasn't that Moshe Rabbenu was doing his own thing, and on top of that also served HaShem completely. He was completely for HaShem, there was nothing else that was of his interest.
The Ramba''m says that each and every one of us can be just like Moshe Rabbenu. WHAT? Are you serious? Yes I am. Maybe we cannot reach the spiritual heights that he did, but Rav Wasserman explains that we can dedicate our entire selves to HaKadosh Barukh Hu just like Moshe Rabbenu did. Moshe Rabbenu gave his entire being to HaShem Yitbarakh and look where he it got him. Rav Wasserman is here to tell us that we are capable of devoting ourselves on this level as well.
Sukkot is one of the hagim that we are able to serve HaKadosh Barukh Hu with our entire selves—in more than just one way. Rebbetsin Kohan taught me that there are two Missvot where we are able to perform with our entire bodies. One is the Missvah of Mikveh, where we immerse our entire selves in natural water. The other one is the Missvah of Sukkah, where we enter the Sukkah with our entire bodies and live there for seven days. In this way, the Sukkah is akin to the purifying effects of the Mikveh. There is also another way of serving the Ribono Shel Olam with our entire selves on Sukkot, and that is with the Lulav and Etrog. Huh? But don't we just shake it with our hands for like two seconds and that's it?
Let's learn what the Lulav and Etrog are all about. We learn that each of the Arbaah Minim, the Four Species represent our main parts of the body. The Etrog represents our heart, the Lulav represents our spine, the Hadas represents our eyes and the Aravot represent our mouth. These are the main faculties by which we serve HaKadosh Barukh Hu. When we shake the Lulav and Etrong were saying, HaShem, here is all of me. Here are all my limbs. I am dedicating them to You. I am all Yours.
Sukkot is a time of year that is the most and least materialistic at the same time. While we basically live in a hut for a week, we are given a Missvah to eat the best meats and wine, to wear new clothing and don fine jewelry. This makes sense though. We are supposed to take these material things and elevate them. We must use them only to serve HaShem completely, not for our own personal benefit. This is how HaShem wants us to serve Him. The last letter of the Torah, in Parashat VeZot HaBerakhah, is Lamed. The first letter of the Torah HaKedoshah, in Parashat Bereshit, is Bet. This spells Lev; heart. We can learn the Torah back and forth, but the connecting factor, the thing that keeps it going, the thing that creates the link in the cycle is none other than our 'Lev', our heart. This is what matter most to HaShem. So now, we aren't only serving HaShem, we're serving Him with our entire heart--beSimhah, with Happiness. This takes us back to our original pasouk, 'Ivdu et HaShem beSimhah!'
To me, Zot HaBerkhah—This is the Berakhah.
Be'Ezrat HaShem, May we all be zokhim to become servants of HaShem in the true sense of the word. May we devote ourselves whole heartedly to HaShem, our Creator and serve Him not only completely, but with immense joy and happiness as well. This Sukkot may we elevate ourselves and all our belongings to serve only HaShem. This upcoming Simhat Torah may we dance our hearts out with the Torah HaKedoshah, overjoyed that we have such a treasure. May we reach levels as high as Moshe Rabbenu and may we spend all our days in true Avodat HaShem! In this zekhout may we merit the ultimate Avodah—that of the Beit HaMikdash—BE'KAROV, AMEN!
Wishing everyone a Shabbat Shalom uMevorakh and a most marvelous Hag!
Information and inspiration by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
Make Your Neshamah Fly!