Want to be a servant? Of course not, it’s a tough job right?
Well there’s another side to that argument.
The number of butlers registered with Greycoat Placements, the servants’ employment agency, has almost doubled to more than 5,000 over the past five years.
It seems that demand is rampant and people are happy to work as butlers and servants.
A few years ago Buckingham palace even put an advert out searching for a new trainee butler. They were inundated with people wishing to work there.
Why is it so popular? Surely it’s a very demanding job?
Our Sages have taught us that when someone becomes a servant of a powerful king or queen, then there are perks.
‘A servant of a king is a king’!
Wherever the king goes, the servant accompanies him, staying in the most luxurious places in the world, eating of the most delicious food, surrounded by the most influential people in the world.
Being a servant can actually be exciting.
In this week’s Parasha we are taught about the ultimate servant of G-d.
When Hashem rebukes Miriam for her words spoken against her brother Moshe’s conduct, He refers to him as Moshe Avdi – Moshe my servant –‘in my whole house he is loyal. Face to face I speak with him….‘ (Bamidbar 12:7-8).
The Pasuk continues later – ‘why did you not fear to speak about my servant, about Moshe.’
The commentators are puzzled as to why there is a double seemingly superfluous statement. The Torah didn’t need to tell us again that Moshe was Hashem’s servant. And even if it did need to repeat it, surely it should have stated BeAvdi Moshe – and not BeAvdi BeMoshe.
The commentators explain that there are two types of personalities that are close to a king.
First is his top minister. Whenever there are big decisions, he will confide in his minister.
The minister will be there with him advising and implementing the king’s will.
The second is the king’s loyal servant. He too will be in attendance of the king’s presence attending to the king’s every will.
On the one hand the minister is higher up as he can implement big decisions, yet on the other hand, he needs to wait to see the king only after organising an official meeting.
The servant however is a Ben Bayit – part of the king’s house, he can enter and leave the king’s presence whenever he sees fit.
The king understands that the servant’s every move is for his benefit.
Moshe was like a minister in Hashem’s palace. He was the leader of Am Yisrael; he led them out of Egypt and encouraged them to keep Hashem’s Mitzvot. But he was also an Eved Hashem – a servant that had the opportunity to enter and leave (so to speak) the King’s presence. He was both BeAvdi (as a servant can enter at free will) and BeMoshe (like a minister and leader).
The Rambam (Hilchot Teshuva 5:2) states that every person is Rauy Lihyot Tsadik KeMoshe – has the ability to be a Tsadik like Moshe Rabenu.
How is it possible to be as righteous as Moshe when the Torah itself clearly states (Devarim 34:10) that there never will be a prophet as great as Moshe?
The Radak (Yehoshua 1:1) explains that an Eved Hashem is someone who puts all their actions and intentions at the will of Hashem.
This Eved Hashem will leave even mundane things to be orchestrated by Hashem. He completely nullifies himself to his Master. Whatever he acquires, his Master acquires. This is who Moshe was.
Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman zts’l explains that every person can reach the level of righteousness of Moshe. How?
By becoming a true servant of Hashem.
When we work on nullifying our will to that of the Creator, then we are working hard to become his servant like Moshe achieved. That level of righteousness is open to all.
Regarding prophecy however, we will never be able to attain the same level of Moshe as he was granted special character traits and strengths that enabled him reach that level.
In the year 5693 the Chafetz Chaim passed away. His student R Elchanan Wasserman zts’l, was asked to give a Hesped (eulogy).
A difficult task lay ahead, the Chafetz Chaim was the leader of the generation, a light to the people, the author of many books which have shaped Jewish law and are used by all to this day.
He stood up and gave the Hesped with two words.
Quoting the Pasuk – Vayomot Sham Moshe – EVED Hashem. (Devarim 34:5)
R Elchanan explained that Moshe’s entire life and essence was hidden in these two words.
What was the meaning of Eved Hashem? He asked.
The Midrash Tanchuma (Lech Lecha 88) relates the following story.
There was once a rich man who had only one son. He cherished and looked after his son with all his love and the son was always there for him.
One day the man needed to travel for business and took with him his most loyal servant. They travelled for a while amassing much wealth. But alas along the way, the man fell ill. He was worried he would die. What was he going to do?
If he wrote a will for his son, surely the servant would manipulate it and take all the wealth for himself.
He waited anticipating his healing, yet things got worse and he was forced to act.
He called in his servant and told him – “you have been a worthy servant. Therefore I have decided to inherit everything to you. However, my son will be able tochoose one thing from my inheritance and you can take the rest for yourself.”
The servant was excited at the ‘good’ news and after the death of his master went to the son with the inheritance document in his hand, proving his claim to the family fortune.
The son was distraught at the news, and felt even more pain when hearing that he had been left only one thing from the inheritance of his father’s massive fortune.
He went to a wise person for advice as to what to do.
The wise man explained to the son.
“Your father was very intelligent. He knew that if he would have given you all his inheritance the servant would have taken everything for himself.
Therefore he wrote out his entire inheritance to the servant, so that the servant would guard it as if it was his and allow you to choose one item.
When you get to the court, tell them that all you want to claim is the servant himself. He will be the item that you claim.
And what the servant owns the master owns (Pesachim 88b)!”
Rabbi Elchanan finished his Hesped by saying that the Chafetz Chaim was an Eved Hashem, he nullified his will to that of the Creator. And his very essence was constantly carrying out the will of Hashem.
To be a servant of a king is a Zechut. To be able to enter the palace at will is of high value. This is what we have to strive toward. As the Rambam states everyone has the ability to be a Tsadik like Moshe Rabenu!