Bo: Not knowing

Our own livestock, too, shall go along with us, not a hoof shall remain behind: for we must select from it for the worship of the Lord our God; and we shall not know with what we are to worship the Lord until we arrive there. (Shemot 10:26)

We won’t know
what God wants of us
until we meet Him
at each turn of the road.

We won’t know
how to worship God
until we arrive
at each port of call.

So we’d best prepare
provisions for the way,
yet be willing to relinquish
the redundant in our lives.

Rabbi David of Kotsk (1809–1873), the first born son of R’ Menachem Mendel of Kotsk, relates to the phrase, “ki mimenu nikach la’avod et HaShem – for we must select from it for the worship of the Lord…” He makes an etymological connection betweennikach – we will select (or take)and the wordlekach – lesson.”  He says, “From all these miracles, we learn (or take) a lesson …and understand that the basis of faith is service to God; but what is the path that a person should choose to serve Him? How does one serve God? That we won’t know until we arrive there.” R’ David of Kotsk seems to be pointing to a fluidity, a willingness to see what is needed as we progress.

The Chiddushei HaRim (the first Gerer Rebbe, grandfather of the Sefat Emet) used to say on this verse, that we are not going to know the value of our own unique service to God until we reach the upper world, and there we will discover. He seems be implying that we need to invest in our service while we can, so that when we look back, it will prove to have been worthwhile.


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