Skip to content

Sukkat Shalom B'nei Noach

Home » Numbers 4:29 – Selfless Devotion

Numbers 4:29 – Selfless Devotion

21 Sivan 5783 – 22 May 2023

בְּנֵ֖י מְרָרִ֑י לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָ֥ם לְבֵית־אֲבֹתָ֖ם תִּפְקֹ֥ד אֹתָֽם׃

As for the Merarites, you shall record them by the clans of their ancestral house;

The task of the sons of Merari was to carry planks of the fence of the Tabernacle. At first glance the least important work of transporting the Tabernacle. Yet it was perhaps the most important. The fence provided a proper separation between the “ordinary” world and the place where sacrifices and worship took place. Without this fence, separation would not be possible, which clearly shows the importance of the fence.

You can even say without enclosure no worship in the Tabernacle, which makes the enclosure the foundation of worship.

What must be our foundation in our service to Hashem. Selfless devotion, as we can learn from Abraham. When G-d called him, all he said was, Hineni—“Here I am”. No questions, no doubts, but “here I am” to do what You ask.

Abraham went so far in this that he was willing to give his own life. When King Nimrod heard that Abraham had smashed the idols he had him imprisoned and pronounced the sentence on him that he would be thrown into the fiery furnace. Abraham accepted that verdict and put his trust completely in G-d who has power over everything and thus also over the fire and over his life.

The greatness of Abraham’s selfless devotion is so great that even Moses could not reach that level. When Moses said hineni at the burning bush, G-d chastised him for doing so, saying, “Do not presume to stand in the place of great ones!”[2]

Abraham was willing to give his life, literally. Although a Noahide is not obligated to sacrifice his life foar the sanctification of G-d’s Name (i.e. to avoid committing idolatry or one of the other capital sins prohibited by the Noahide commandments, at the cost of his life*), it is permissible for him to do so, and this is not considered suicide. (May G-d preserve us from ever being in such a situation.) [3]

But it is not primarily in the above situation where we want to sanctify G-d’s Name, but in everyday life. To what extent are we willing and able to bow our heads and do what He asks of us. Without asking questions, without looking for ways out, but by saying “I do.” It is about making a choice every moment. Do we do what He wants, or do we do what we want for ourselves. How far does our devotion go?

May we be strengthened every day to make more and more right choices and act according to His will, only because He asks us to, not because it gives us something.

By Angelique Sijbolts


[1] The Life of Our Forefather Abraham

[2] Chassidic Insights for Parshah Vayeira

[3] The Divine Code 4e edition p. 332 by Rabbi Moshe Weiner

* It is not permissible to kill someone else – on someone else’s orders – to preserve one’s own life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.