Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The meaning of avodah

אך לשון עבודה אינו נופל אלא על דבר שהאדם עושה ביגיעה עצומה, נגד טבע נפשו

The term “service” (avodah), however, applies only to what a man does with immense exertion, contrary to his soul’s inclination,

Indeed, it is his very disinclination for a particular task that works against him, and necessitates such exertion.

רק שמבטל טבעו ורצונו, מפני רצון העליון ברוך הוא

but he overrules his nature and will out of deference to the Supreme Will;

כגון לייגע עצמו בתורה ובתפלה, עד מיצוי הנפש כו׳

exhausting himself, for example, in Torah and prayer, “to the extent of pressing out the soul....”9

Since the soul is not naturally inclined to such a situation, a great deal of toil and effort is required.

ואף כאן, במצות הצדקה, ליתן הרבה יותר מטבע רחמנותו ורצונו

In our case, too, with regard to the commandment of giving charity, [to “serve” entails] giving far more than [would be prompted by] the nature of one’s compassion and will.

וכמו שאמרו רז״ל על פסוק: נתון תתן, אפילו מאה פעמים

As our Sages, of blessed memory, commented10 on the verse,11 “Give, you shall give”: “...even a hundred times.”

9. Note of the Rebbe: “Iggeret HaKodesh, Epistle 1.”

10. Note of the Rebbe: “Sifri, Devarim 15:10; commentary of Rashi there.”

11. Devarim, loc. cit.

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