A Jew shuffles into shul on Yom Kippur, and the rabbi greets him, “Reb
Moshe! I haven’t seen you the entire year. Where have you been? Are you not
in the army of G-d?” Reb Moshe answers, “Of course I am! I’m in the secret
This week the U.S. Secret Service faced an embarrassing moment. It was
called the biggest scandal in the history of the secret service. Eleven
agents were busted soliciting prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia.
Apparently, what those agents did is technically not illegal in Colombia,
but President Obama stated most strongly that he would be “very angry” if
the reports were true. According to Obama, those Secret Service agents were
not in Columbia for themselves but rather they were representing the entire
United States and should have held themselves to a higher moral standard.
I read Obama’s words with fascination, for as Jews, we too are held to a
Secret Service agents are hand selected and rigorously trained. Huge
amounts of money are invested in producing top notch agents who are then
sent on important missions.
Each and every one of us is a member of a different kind of secret service.
Our souls, before descending into this world, were trained, briefed, and
hand selected. Then those souls were given their missions: uplift the
world, elevate its inhabitants, spread G-dliness and spirituality. With
their training behind them, our souls were ready to tackle the task. They
came right down, entered our bodies, and together we do the work…
But as we go through life, challenges try to prevent us from fulfilling our
missions. The evil inclination gets in the way and tries to derail us.
Interestingly, the Kabala likens the evil inclination to a prostitute. A
parable is told of a king who wishes to test his only son to determine his
loyalty. He hires a prostitute to seduce his son again and again to see if
he passes. Similarly, the evil inclination is there to test us, again and
again, as we try to live a life of holiness and spread that holiness to
Here in this world, we are not just “us”. We are G-d’s representatives and
we are held to a higher standard. As Rashi writes in this weeks Torah
portion. "Just as I am holy, so too you should make yourselves holy." Not
just for 10 days at a time. This is a long-term mission, and we need to
uphold the standards. Eat kosher food? Sure! Put on tefillin? Absolutely,
it’s part of my mission. Nail a mezuzah to my door? Go right ahead! Observe
Shabbat? Of course, it’s a weekly reminder that G-d created us and sent us
on this mission.
When the Colombia scandal came to light, General Martin Dempsey said, “We
let the boss down.”
As long-term secret service agents, we know our Boss is relying on us.
Let’s not let Him down.
*Thanks to Rabbi Mendel Prus, Chabad Rabbi in Doylestown PA for the
inspiration of this article. *