There is a story told about how the Beis Halevi went “all out” to serve a guest in his home, giving him whatever he needed. The guest felt uncomfortable being served by the “Gadol Hador” and several times throughout the visit would say to the Beis Halevi “Please don’t trouble yourself”, “You are not my servant”, “I am fine” or “It is not necessary”. However, the Beis Halevi didn’t respond, and just continued to serve the man with a smile on his face. The next morning, right before keriyas hatorah, the Beis Halevi whispered something into the ear of the Gabbai. When it came time for hagba, the Gabbai called upon the Beis Halevi’s guest. The guest grabbed the wooden handles of the sefer Torah, but a moment before he lifted it, the Beis Halevi ran from his seat, and said to him “Don’t trouble yourself.”
It seems to me that the Beis Halevi was trying to give this person two lessons: That helping even the simplest of Jews is a mitzvah of chesed; and just as it is an honor to lift up a sefer Torah for Hagbaa, so too it is an honor to serve another Jew.
When I heard this story, I was wondering about the Beis Halevi’s initial lack of response. While it is easy to understand that the greatest of tsaddikim must appreciate even the simplest Jew as a treasure and a piece of Hashem, I also wondered why the guest was wrong in protesting being served by the tsaddik.
In this week’s parsha, we read that Yisro comes to bnei Yisrael and eats a meal with just Aharon and the elders —but not Moshe. Rashi explains the reason Moshe didn’t partake in the meal was because he was the “waiter” – serving Yisro and the other participants. It seems clear to me that Aharon and the elders did not intervene and allowed Moshe to be the “waiter” because it was Moshe’s mitzvah—and years later the Beis Halevi acted in a similar fashion.
However, I suspect that while Aharon and the elders understood they had to allow Moshe to serve them, they would not say to themselves that they were deserving of the honor of being served by the gadol hador. So too, if we are in a situation of being served by those who really deserve our reverence, we should not let ourselves feel that we deserve it, but instead should feel the humility and greatness of those who are providing the service for us.