As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the LORD our God,
till he shows us his mercy. — Psalm 123:2
A story is told about a rabbi fighting for religious freedom in communist Russia. One morning as the rabbi prayed in synagogue, three men rushed in and arrested the rabbi for his actions. Facing a council of determined men, the rabbi reaffirmed that he would not give up his religious activities. One of the agents pointed a gun at his head and said, “This little toy has made many a man change his mind!” The rabbi replied, “That little toy can only intimidate men with many gods and one world. But I have only one God and two worlds, so I am not impressed by your little toy.”
What an incredible display of courage and faith!
As the rabbi explained, some people have many gods. They are beholden to many things – people, jobs, money, passions, and so forth. In addition, for many people, this is the only world that matters. Some deny the existence of life after death; some acknowledge it but are far too focused on the comforts of this world to value the reality of the next one.
However, this rabbi was beholden to no one and nothing other than God. His faith was unshakable since he believed with all his heart that he would live beyond death and be judged by his Creator. His only worry was what God might think of him.
In Psalm 123, the psalmist wrote: “As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God…” With these words, the psalmist expressed his complete dependence on God – and only God. Like a slave looks to his master as the only person in the world who can provide for him, protect him, and determine his fate, so too, do we look upon God. Only God can help us, only He can save us, and our destiny – both in this world and in the next – lies in His hands.
It has been said, “He who fears One, fears none, but he who fears many, fears any.” When we are slaves to God and fear only Him, we have nothing to fear – not even an entire army of men. But when we are slaves to many people and things, we will fear even the smallest threat from a lowly individual.
Say these verses and feel strengthened and empowered. With God’s help, we can stand up to the greatest of bullies and rest with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that our only Master is God. It is He alone who we serve — and He alone who determines our destiny.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President