Out of Control

“…For the children of Israel are servants to me; they are my servants, whom i took out of the land of Egypt…” – Vayikra 25:55

כִּי לִי בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל עֲבָדִים עֲבָדַי הֵם אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִי אוֹתָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם – ויקרא כה, נה

Why does the verse repeat itself, saying “B’nei Yisrael are servants to me; they are my servants whom I took out of the land of Egypt”? Would it not have been enough to say only once “B’nei Yisrael are my servants, whom I took out of the land of Egypt”?

This double expression reflects the twofold nature of B’nei Yisrael’s servitude to G-d. One degree of servitude is the obedience of G-d’s will they committed themselves to on their own; the other is an inescapable debt of servitude—a condition on which G-d redeemed them from the Egyptian slavery.

Before the Giving of the Torah, B’nei Yisrael said of their own accord, “na’aseh v’nishma, we will obey and we will listen,” emphatically announcing their readiness to obey G-d’s will even before (and not conditional upon) “listening” and understanding what He would expect of them. This pledge stemmed from their profound eagerness to be His servants and to carry out His wishes, whatever they may be. G-d acknowledges this pledge in the Torah, saying, “For the children of Israel are servants to Me”—they have committed themselves to Me.

No Control

 

This commitment, however, (despite the unique significance of being initiated by B’nei Yisrael themselves,) does not represent the ultimate degree of a Jew’s submission to G-d. Being that the commitment of na’aseh v’nishma stemmed from the people, this personal and mortal commitment to G-d does not contain the limitlessness of B’nei Yisrael’s “inescapable” debt of servitude owed to G-d for redeeming them from Egypt.

This is what the verse adds by saying, “they are My servants, whom I took out from the land of Egypt,” after already noting our acceptance of G-d as our master—“B’nei Yisrael are servants to Me.” The debt we owe to G-d for redeeming us from Egypt gives our commitment to Him an element of “inescapability.” This “compulsory” servitude to G-d, which was revealed at the Giving of the Torah when G-d said, “I am Hashem your G-d who took you out of Egypt” (Shemos 20:2), is what makes B’nei Yisrael “My servants”—infinitely committed to G-d, with an unnatural devotion that transcends all circumstances.

—Toras Menachem, Sefer Hama’amarim Melukat, vol. 3, p. 357-358

 

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