Nitzavim-Vayeilech: Subjects Or Servants?

Standing Before The King

“You are standing today – all of you – before the Lord your God….” (Deut. 29:9)

At the end of his life, Moses tells the Jewish people that they are standing before God, entering into His covenant and pledging to follow His laws. Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman (1914-2017) asks, “In truth, every one of us is constantly standing before God; if so, what is the great significance that Moses had to inform the Jewish people that they were specifically standing before God at this point in time?”

Rabbi Moshe Kormornick answers that while it is true that we are constantly standing before God and He is aware of our every action, there are certain times when we are especially close to the Holy One. Imagine a land governed by a benevolent ruler; everybody in the land is under his watch. Now imagine a subject who chooses to devote his life to the king’s service. He lives on the palace grounds, is known by the king personally, fully dedicates himself to serving the king, and in return he is well cared for.

When Moses tells the Jewish people that they are standing before God, he is telling them that they will no longer be mere subjects of the King, but rather loyal servants, standing “before God” in a new and unprecedented manner. 

Let us commit to seeking a deeper relationship with the King of Kings, to lovingly serve Him in all our ways and to be lovingly cared for in return. 

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