Simchas Torah - Parshas V'zos Habracha
Terms Of Endearment
Volume 3 Issue 54
by Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky
G-d's eulogy for Moshe should consist of the most poetic words that can
describe a man who fulfilled every wish and command that is imaginable of
mortal beings. In summarizing Moshe's life's achievements, He should choose
words that describe his remarkable humility, his unstinting devotion, and
his amazing powers of calm and sensibility. He doesn't.
"And Moshe, the eved Hashem (servant of G-d) died" (Deuteronomy 34:5). Eved
Hashem are the two words chosen to encapsulate the life of the greatest
living legend in biblical history. Just two simple words - servant of G-d.
Do those words truly do Moshe justice? How could the simplest and lowest
of compliments, calling the greatest prophet a simple servant help us
understand G-d's adulation for his greatest follower?
Fredrick the Great, King of Prussia during the late 1700s, was reviewing
his troops when he noticed a middle-aged soldier wearing an interesting
ornament. Dangling from what appeared to be an heirloom watch-chain was
the spent casing of a bullet. It had been polished and shined as it
replaced a watch that the soldier obviously was unable to afford.
The king, in a playful mood, pulled his diamond-studded pocket watch from
his vest and held it in the sunlight. As the rays glinted off the diamonds
that surrounded its face he stared at his piece intently. Then he looked at
the soldier. "My dear soldier," he said in mock concern as he tugged on
the exquisite piece attached to its chain. "My timepiece says that it is
half past one. What time does yours tell?"
The soldier looked down at the bullet.
"Your honor," he declared with sincere humility. "The ornament that
dangles from my watch chain, does not tell me the time. Rather it is a
"A bullet!" scoffed the king. "Why on earth would you wear a bullet
instead of a watch?"
"To me your honor, there are no hours, minutes nor seconds. My watch tells
me that every moment I am willing to take a bullet - even if it means my
life - for your Majesty."
King Fredrick was so impressed with the soldier's reply that he promptly
removed his exquisite royal watch and presented it to the soldier.
Mortals look for accolades that personify their own wisdom, wealth, and
accomplishment. The Torah looks for accolades to identify the
accomplishment of man's reason for being.
The greatest praise that the Creator of all things can reap upon his
beloved are two Hebrew words -- Eved Hashem -- Servant of G-d. Moshe was
totally subservient to the will of his Creator making him a mortal
extension of His immortal existence. Those two words - eved Hashem -- say
a lot. They say more than hundreds of pages of eulogy or tomes of
accolades. They tell the raison d'etre of mortal man - to serve Hashem.
As we ponder our existence as we enter the new year, it's wonderful to know
those words. They help us focus on the meaning of life while keeping it's
complexities quite simple. All we have to yearn for is to reach that great
level of simplicity.
Mordechai Kamenetzky - Yeshiva of South Shore
516-328-2490 Fax 516-328-2553
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Copyright © 1997 by Rabbi M. Kamenetzky and Project Genesis, Inc.
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The author is the Associate Dean of the
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