ודבר ה אל מושה למור:  הקרב את מטה לוי והשעמדת אתו לפני אהרן הכהן ושרתו אתו:  ושמרו את-משמרתו ואת-משמרת כל-העדה לפני אהל מועד לעבד את-עבודת במשכן:  ושמרו את-כל-כלי אהל מועד ואת-משמרת בני ישראל לעבוד את-עבודת המשכן:  ונתתה את-הלוים לאהרן ולבמיו נתומם מתומם המה מאת בני ישראל:  ואת-אהרן ואת-במיו תפקד ושמרו את-כהנתם והזר הקרב יומת - במידבר ג"ו-י
 
And Adonai spoke to Moshah saying, Bring the tribe of Lewi near, and present them before Aharon the priest, that they may minister to him.  And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the Tent of Meeting, to do the service of the tabernacle.  And you will give the Lewites to Aharon  and to his sons: they are wholly given to him out of the children of Yisra'el.  And you will appoint Aharon and his sons, and they will keep their priest's office: and the stranger that comes near shall be put to death - Bemithbar 3:5-10
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In this pasuq, we read how the Creator, may He be exalted, seperates the tribe of Lewi from the rest of Benei Yisra'el and gives them a special charge: to perform the services of the mishkan, which would later be the Beth haMiqthash.  One may  pose the following queries: what does this mean for Yisra'el, those who are neither Lewi nor kohen? Did they not have a special charge and service too? What was the nature of their service? Can we extrapolate the service of Yisrael by studying the nature of the Lewite service?
 
The two verses that we can look into for understanding are ושמרו את-משמרת כל-העדה לפני אהל מועד לעבד את-עבודת במשכן (And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the Tent of Meeting, to do the service of the tabernacle) and והזהר הקרב יומת (and the stranger that comes near shall be put to death).

In the first of these two pasuqim, we see that Divine election carries with it extended responsibility. This same concept of extention can also be observed throughout the Torah.  Regarding righteous Gentiles, the sheva miswoth lebenei Noah became binding on all mankind. Later, after the mabul, when mankind was given the permission to eat meat, the law pertaining to slaughter was enacted/revealed.  When the Creator, may He be exalted, chose Avram and changed his name to Avraham, the extra miswah of milah (circumcision) was given.  Even the full revelation of Torah occured at Har Sinai (Mount Sinai), when all Benei Yisra'el accepted the Torah and the miswah. All these are examples of extended responsibilities that come with Divine election.
 
Also, Divine favor (election) carries with it the duty to thank the Creator, may He be exalted, for His graces.  Thus we read (Hovoth haLevavoth, by Rabenu Bahya ibn Paqutha): "How much then, does a man owe service, praise, and gratitude to the Creator of all good, the Creator of all those who have shown him good; Whose goodness has no bounds, is perpetual and undying, and comes with no self-interest or desire to avoid injury, but is only grace and lovingkindness toward all men."
 
What then, is the specific service that (Yisroalim) owe God?  We can apply the principle of going from a specific to a generic precept.. The לויים were called to a special service and thus have special obligations.  Since ישראל, likewise, has been called out from among the nations, they too have a special task.
Again, in Hovoth haLevavoth, we read: "Service is defined as the submission of a benificiary to his benefactor, by repaying - to the best of his ability - for the favor [he recieved from him]."
 
Rabenu Bahya zs"l continues: "This submission is of two types: submission out of fear and expectation, under compulsion and pressure; and submission out of duty and that it is right to exalt and glorify-- the individual one submits to."
 
The first type of submission is alluded to by "the stranger that comes near shall be put to death."  It is out of fear of Divine retribution that we obey the miswoth given by the Creator, may He be exalted.  The second type of submission is alluded to in the first verse, "they shall keep His charge" - they being the Lewiyyim that were elected by haShem to serve in the mishkan and later the Beth haMiqthash.
 
In the vein the Temani Midrash haBe'ur speaks of Divine reward and punishment: "Someone has already said in protest, 'When the Messiah comes and the dead are ressurected - will those two foundations then be abolished, or will they not?'  Know that they shall remain, just like the rememberance of the exodus from Misrayyim."
 
Yet is this the motive that we should have when we serve God?   Rabenu Bahya states otherwise - that the second type of service is that which is preferred.  Despite the eternality of Divine reward and punishment, the true motive for avodath haShem is that of duty.  However, it may be beyond the grasp of some to do so, hence after the Creator, may He be exalted, told the Lewiyyim of their obligation to serve in the mishkan, He added "and the stranger that comes near shall be put to death," so that those who cannot grasp the pure ideal of avodath haShem will first be stirred by fear of retribution - this will in time lead to a pure service of God.
 
Morenu Yehuthah haLewi, in Sepher haKuzari states (Kuzari, Sha`ar Hamishi - Avothah): "Serving God is true freedom, and humility before Him is true honor.  One who serves God with humility frees himself from the service of others whose favor he seeks and never attains; even were he to win their favor, it would be of no lasting benifit to him."
 
Currently this avothah is in the form of tephillah - prayer.  However, is this the end that we should be content with?  Have we-hallilah that we should feel this way!  When returning the tik to the hechal we recite חדש ימינו כקדם - renew our days as of old.
 
How lax we are in this prayer!  When the Creator, may He be exalted, told Avraham avinu to "lach lecha" our father a"h did not sit around and wait, he obeyed.  To refer back to the pasuqim from this weeks parashah, "and they shall keep his charge," and "the stranger who draws near shall be put to death."  Benei Yisra'el was chosen from all the tongues of the earth to be partners with God - priest to the gentiles and servants to help bring about the final redemption.  What charge do I speak of now?  To build the Beth haMiqthash, which is listed by Rabenu weMorenu RMb"M zs"l as one of the positive miswoth. (Yath haHazaqah, Sepher haMiswoth).  This miswah is eternal in nature, it never ceases to be obligitory - "they shall keep his charge."  When the miswah is ignored, then am Yisra'el "shall be put to death."  Whe should not wait for the Beth haMiqthash haShalishi to fall from thy sky, as we learn from the Yath (Sepher Malachim) that the days of mashiah will not be a break from the natural order, but rather nature will continue in its processes. Let me explain what I mean by building the Temple. Building the מיקדש entails more than erecting the structure itself.  We must also learn and teach the הלכות (laws) of the מיקדש. Also,  we must educate כהנים (the Priestly line) and find a כהן הגדל (High Priest), etc.
 
As long as we continue to hide behind fallacies and fear, we will be "put to death" by our enemies-who have no regard for human life. As we have learned from Midrash haBe'ur, Divine retribution and divine reward are eternal decrees, they will never be removed from the world.  This means it is never too late to turn the tide.  As it is often said, אין מזל לישראל - there is no mazal (fortune) for Yisra'el.  If we pray dilligently and act in complete trust in the Creator, may He be exalted, there will be help from heaven (as we say in the qadish, סיתא דישמיא) - the choice is ours.  Do we "keep his charge and the charge of the whole congregation," or do we instead remain in darkness and "be put to death?"
 
Let us return to a pure Yehathuth, let us not only pray for our renewal, but act towards it as well.  To end with words from Rabenu Shelomo ibn Jabirol, from the poem Kethar Malchuth regarding the light of God:
 
"This is the mystery of power, the sacred and the foundation.  Thine is the aim that is hidden from the wise, the strength that sustains the world over chaos, the power to bring light to all that is hidden.  Thine is the mercy that rules over Thy creatures and the goodness preserved for those who fear Thee.  Thine are the secrets that no mind or thought can encompass, and the life over which decay has no rule, and the throne that is higher than all height, and the habitation that is hidden at the pinnacle of mystery.  Thine is the existence from the shadow of whose light every being was made to be and we said, 'Under His shadow we shall live,' Thine are the two worlds between which Thou didst set a limit, the first for works and the second for requital.  Thine is the reward which Thou has set aside for the righteous and hidden, and Thou sawest that it was good, and has kept it hidden."
 
שבת שלום
שמריהו ישראל בן אברהם אבינו
 
 
A note on my translitterations: I have used "h" for the letters hei and heth, "th" for the fricative forms of dalath and taw, "s" for samach, sin, and sadi; "j" for the plosive form of gimmal