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Standing before the King

Written by Rabbi Moshe Kormornick

You are standing today — all of you — before Hashem your God (29:9)

In this verse, Moshe is telling the Jewish People that they are standing before Hashem, about to enter into His covenant and accept upon themselves all of the mitzvos of the Torah.

Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman asks, ‘In truth, every one of us is constantly standing before Hashem; if so, what is the great significance that Moshe had to inform the Jewish People that they were specifically standing before Hashem at this point in time?’[1]

Perhaps one could answer as follows: While it is certainly true that we are constantly standing before Hashem and He is constantly noting our deeds,[2] there are times when we are in effect, closer to Hashem in a very real way. If we imagine a land where the king governs all of his subjects, we can say that they are all under the watchful eye of the king — they are all ‘before him.’ Each citizen is looked after by the king, and to a degree, enjoys a relationship with him, but their relationship is limited. However, a subject who approaches the king and offers to live in his palace and dedicate his entire life to the king, serving him in every way 24 hours a day, is going to enjoy a much closer relationship with the king. He is going to be better looked after and as a resident of the palace, all of his needs are going to be taken care of.

Perhaps this is why Moshe informed the Jewish People that they were standing before Hashem. He was telling them that because they were about to enter into a covenant with Hashem to observe His Torah at all times, they were no longer merely subjects of the King, they were now loyal servants agreeing to live in the King’s Palace — as such they were about to be ‘before Hashem’ in a way that they had never previously experienced.

In fact, at this time of year when we add the chapter of Tehillim “LeDovid Hashem” to our prayers, we include the words “One thing I asked of Hashem, this I shall request: [That I] dwell in the House of Hashem all the days of my life.”[3] What is so significant about seeking to dwell in Hashem’s House specifically at this time of year? The answer is that we are praying for all sorts of things: health, wealth, security, happiness, and peace; we have all sorts of worries which we would like to have taken care of. Yet, if we are living in the King’s palace, we don’t have to worry, because Hashem is taking care of us. As loyal subjects of the King who live in His House, He is responsible for our health, wealth, security, happiness, and peace. As such, our prayer is not that we have all the blessings that we need, our prayer is that we are accepted into Hashem’s House so that He can look after all our needs — even those that we don’t know that we are in need of!

The lesson to take from this is that just like the Jewish People were about to accept upon themselves the yoke of Torah and thus enjoy a greater relationship with Hashem, so too, if we accept upon ourselves to follow Hashem’s Torah to the best of our ability, we will also be welcomed in the King’s Palace and have all of our needs taken care of.

[1] See the Ibn Ezra for a different approach, as well as Rav Shteinman’s own answer which differs slightly from the one stated above.
[2] As it says in Pirkei Avos (2:1)
[3] 27:4

Rabbi Moshe Kormornick, is the best selling author of SHORT VORT, available in Jewish bookstores worldwide, as well as at and on amazon. 

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