I’m glad today is over. Why? The only way to describe what happened today is the “daily grind”. There were no aha! moments today. Needless to say I walked in the door at 5:30pm a little depressed. I sat down at my computer and checked my email. Just like a parental slap in the back of the head, an email from Rabbi Daniel Lapin straightened me out. Let me share a portion of it with you…
The Lord’s language has a word for an activity which might be staggeringly difficult to confront but which also might be the single most important assignment for any given moment of our lives.
That word is AVoDaH and one revealing example of its usage is this:
And they (the Egyptians) embittered their (the Israelites) lives with hard work, with mortar and bricks, and with all work in the field; all their work at which they worked them was with harshness.
Every instance of the word ‘work’ in that verse, employs the Hebrew word Avodah. It suggests subjugation and servitude and certainly doesn’t sound like a positive word. It actually sounds like something you desperately want to avoid.
Don’t be too quick to jump to that conclusion. Let’s learn another Hebrew word for work – MeLaCHaH. Understanding it will make all the difference.
We find both words for work combined in the Fourth Commandment, instructing us to remember the Sabbath day.
Six days shall you work (AVoDaH) and do all your work (MeLaCHaH)…
Why do we need both words? God is giving us a tremendously significant message.MeLaCHaH is the creative work that transforms our world and uplifts our lives, while Avodah is work that lacks that exciting element. Yet we do not get to doMeLaCHaH if we don’t first do our Avodah.
Life in Egypt was tough precisely because slaves have only Avodah with no possibility of MeLaCHaH. But don’t dream that you can enjoy MeLaCHaH without Avodah. Integrating the two types of work makes everything possible.
There is little as exciting as seeing one’s toddler blossom into a responsible youth and thriving adult with whom you share a close relationship. Achieving that requires many hours of consistent and sometimes unpleasant parenting (along with much prayer and blessing).
Making the big sale is thrilling. Hours of application, hard work, disappointment and dedication precede the excitement. Playing to a full house is thrilling, but years of perseverance lead to that moment.
Fortunately, we don’t need to wait years for the fulfillment of MeLaCHaH. Each of our days—and as the Fourth Commandment reveals, our weeks—holds both types of work. However, we do best knowing that the way the world really works, we should tackle the mundane and difficult with zest, for without it we will never achieve MeLaCHaH. We should rejoice in Avodah rather than resenting it.
– Rabbi Daniel Lapin