Parashat Tzav

Service As Its Own Reward

Zealousness in regard to the elevation offering reminds us to be careful in our service of God and others, even when the service does not result in immediate benefit to us.

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Rather, I think R. Twerski is asking us to think over those times we've secretly resented having to do something for somebody else--or for God--if it didn't bring us some immediate benefit. Sometimes that benefit is material, and sometimes it is intangible: honor, recognition, power, influence, acclaim. These things are not bad in themselves, but seeking them as the price of "good behavior" can lead to disappointment or anger if they're not forthcoming.

Thus, even the High Priest was warned: be careful, lest your disappointment at not "getting anything" mar the joyfulness and spirituality of your service. Service to God and others is ideally its own reward, bringing with it the joy of giving and the satisfaction of partnership with God in the work of Redemption.

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Rabbi Neal J. Loevinger

Rabbi Neal Joseph Loevinger is currently the rabbi of Temple Beth-El in Poughkeepsie, NY. A former student at Kolel, he served as Kolel's Director of Outreach from late 1999-2001. He was ordained in the first graduating class of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of the University of Judaism, and holds a Master's of Environmental Studies from York University in Toronto.