In response to the question of the pasuk, “for the Children of Israel are servants to Me, they are My servants (Vayikra 25:55),” the Sfas Emes says the Torah is saying what kind of servants Bnei Yisrael should try to be: Not to be there just to serve our own pleasure, but to serve only Hashem. He gets this idea from the Mishnah in Avos (1:3) with the words: Be not like servants who serve their master for the sake of receiving a reward; instead be like servants who serve their master not for the sake of receiving a reward.

R’ Yehoshua Heller asks the question,”Do not serve Hashem for the sake of a reward”? What’s the point in all that seemingly unnecessary statement that is nearly redundant?

R’ Heller explains that we are allowed to do mitzvos with the reward in mind. For example, the Gemara (Bava Basra 10b) that a person gives tzedaka so that his child will recover from an illness is considered fully righteous. But the point is that the full intention should not be like a servant who is doing the whole job just so he can get the reward.

Our sole focus for doing mitzvos shouldn’t be the reward. The greatest mitzvah is Torah study, but we are obligated to do other mitzvos, too; otherwise we would be learning Torah the whole day because we would get the biggest reward. The reward for our actions should only be our secondary focus.

Another thought: Are the Jews considered children of Hashem or servants? The Sfas Emes says that on Shabbos Hashem views us with the special love reserved for children.

[Source: A Daily Dose, Volume 8, Parshas Behar: Shabbas: A Mussar Thought for the Day, page 232-233]


*I’m very sorry – I didn’t realize this was a double parsha until after.*