אתם נצבים היום כלכם לפני ד’ אלקיכם, ראשיכם שבטיכם זקניכם ושוטריכם כל איש ישראל
טפכם נשיכם וגרך אשר בשעריך מחטב עציך עד שואב מימיך
You stand today, all of you, before God, your Lord, the heads of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, the all of the men of Israel. Your small children, your women, your proselyte who is in the midst of your camp, from your woodcutter to your water-carrier
Prior to introducing the final covenant that he would administer between God and the Jewish people, Moshe takes note of the participation of the nation’s entire spectrum of characters. “The heads of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, the all of the men of Israel”, proclaims Moshe, “your small children, your women, your proselyte who is in the midst of your camp, from your woodcutter to your water-carrier” all stand before God to enter this Covenant today.
While the list is all-encompassing indeed, there is a peculiarity in how Moshe rounds out the attendance with the final words of “from your woodcutter to your water-carrier”. Inasmuch as Moshe seeks here to demonstrate the breadth of participation, wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to pick two occupation which lie at opposite ends of the societal spectrum? Why, question the commentators, would Moshe instead invoke two professions both similar only in unremarkability? (i.m.i.u)
The answer likely lies in Moshe’s first words: “You stand today, all of you”. In case that wasn’t clear enough, he reiterates moments later, “the all of the men of Israel”. It should be obvious that Moshe speaketh not of “all men”, but of “the all of man”. He seeks to squelch the notion that only an individual’s more spiritual properties are relevant to the pursuit of Godliness which lies at the foundation of our Covenant. No, says Moshe. The entirety of your personality, down to your plumbing prowess and foresting finesse, stands before God. Woodcutting and watercarrying lie indeed at two ends of a material spectrum whose entirety is just as vital to God’s masterplan as is piety, scholarship, and everything in between the two.
The lesson is profound. Do not walk into God’s chamber with your greasy hands hiding behind your tuxedo. There is nothing to be ashamed of about what you do or who you are. What you need to fret over is how you do it or Who you do it for. God does not need a bunch of angels. In fact, He may very well need a mechanic for next year. Should we all come in to Rosh Hashana looking identical, spotless in our Yom Tov finery with our respective workclothes guiltily heaped in a pile hidden away right before the threshold of His chamber, God may be hard pressed to assign the missions of the world to a self-loathing workforce.
No. Come in. Stand tall. The whole of you. Say “God, this is who I am, this is what I can do, and I hereby offer my services to you”.
God does not give out unemployment. He does not believe in pork-barrel spending any more than He permits pork. It is therefore vitally important that we make ourselves useful, because otherwise, we may find Him simply unwilling to raise the death ceiling.