Parashat Tetzaveh

Live To Serve

Like the priests and Levites, we must find our unique eternal flame to light the world.

Print this page Print this page

A wise religious leader once said, "God has three sorts of servants in the world: Some are slaves and serve God from fear; others are hirelings and serve for wages; and the last are children, who serve because they love." (F. G. Marchant, The Preacher's Homiletic Commentary, Joshua)

A fellow pianist asked Jan Paderewski if he could be ready to play a recital on short notice. The famous musician replied, "I am always ready. I have practiced eight hours daily for forty years." The other pianist said, "I wish I had been born with such determination." Paderewski replied, "We are all born with it. I just used mine." (Funny, Funny World, September 1983)

One of Ripley's "Believe It or Not" items pictured a plain bar of iron worth $5. The same bar of iron if made into horseshoes would be worth $50. If it were made into needles, it would be worth $5,000. If it were made into balance springs for fine Swiss watches, it would be worth $500,000. The raw material is not as important as how it's developed. God says we have spiritual gifts, but their worth to God will be dependent on how we develop them. (Mark Porter in the AutoIllustrator, January 1985)

"I do not know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve." (Albert Schweitzer in an interview late in his life)

Perhaps what we are called to do may not seem like much. But consider what one scientist has called "the butterfly effect:" Even a butterfly moving its wings has an effect on galaxies thousands of light-years away. (Madeleine L'Engle, A Stone for a Pillow)

The following is a eulogy for Someone Else. "Our congregation is deeply saddened by the passing of an irreplaceable member--Someone Else. For all of these years he did far more than any other congregational member. Whenever leadership was mentioned, Someone Else was looked to for inspiration and achievement. Whenever there was a job to do, a class to teach, or a meeting to attend, everybody always turned to Someone Else. It was common knowledge that Someone Else was among the largest contributors to the church. Whenever there was a financial need, everyone just assumed that Someone Else would make up the difference. Although we are grieved by the loss of Someone Else, his death comes as no big surprise. He was far too overworked and continually stretched too thin. In fact, we may have contributed to his death by expecting too much out of Someone Else. He left a wonderful example to follow, but it appears there is Nobody willing to fill the shoes of Someone Else. I shudder to think what will now happen to our church since we can no longer depend on Someone Else." (Leadership, January 22, 1992)

Your Guide

Do you agree with Schweitzer's assessment of a happy life? What about L'Engle's assessment of our impact on the world?

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Rabbi Robert Lennick

Rabbi Robert Lennick is the president and CEO of Religion in American Life, Stamford, CT.