Dedication: Refuah Sheleima for Shlomo Yisroel Ben SarahIn order to earn the title of “Eved Hashem” (a servant of G-d), we must learn to serve Him outside our comfort zones…beyond the place we feel at ease…this is true "Avdus" (servitude)
One of the greatest terms a Jew could be called is an “Eved Hashem”- a servant of Hashem. What exactly is the definition of an Eved Hashem?
There is a famous Gemara that tells us that if someone reviews his learning a hundred times, he is not an Eved Hashem. But, if he reviews his learning a hundred and one times, then he is considered an Eved Hashem. So what exactly does this mean? Isn’t 100 times a lot? And if 100 times is not enough, then why would 101 times make the difference in status?
There is a famous teaching of the Baal HaTanya. He says in the times of Chazal, the only thing that was written was the written Torah. As far as the Oral Torah, it was not yet written down. In those days, to ensure that a person would remember that which he heard, the standard was to review one’s learning 100 times. What we learn is this: if a person serves G-d within one’s comfort level, that’s not really “Avdus” – being a servant. So at that time, 100 times was accepted as the standard- therefore it was not considered Avdus. But one more time to review…that is what put a person to the next level beyond his comfort level -and that is precisely when he earns the title of “Eved Hashem”. So we learn that it has nothing to do with accomplishment per se. It is instead, a matter of going beyond his comfort zone. It’s about how much pushing, self sacrifice, and Mesiras Nefesh one has put in.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov tells the story of a king who goes on a hunting trip with his servants. Suddenly there’s a terrible storm and all the servants run away. The king looks around, and finds a house with a local Villager. The villager tries to help him by giving him whatever he can- something to eat, and a dry place to sleep on the floor – he didn’t even have a bed to offer him. After the incident, the king gets back to the palace, and he doesn’t forget the simple villager who helped him. He makes a big feast and invites the simple villager as the honoree of the party. The king’s servants try to dissuade him by lessening what the villager did for him – after all, he only gave the king some porridge to eat and a dry rug to sleep on. The King replies “but this was all he had, and he gave it to me; he gave me everything he could.” That’s a metaphor for how we are supposed to be Ovdei Hashem – by giving everything we can muster – by leaving our comfort zones.
Hashem should help us serve Him outside our comfort zones and earn the title “Ovdei Hashem.” May we merit to see the coming of the Moshiach speedily in our days, Amen.