When I was young I was told that I had another father. I never got to see this father, because he lived very far away, but he was always watching me. He had lots of rules. They told me that if I followed them I would make Him happy, so I did. He was a kind father because He gave me food and clothes and other things, so I wanted to make Him happy.

Later, I realized that there were some rules that I understood. My teacher told me: "do not kill", but I wouldn't anyway. He told me "Do not commit adultery", but I would never do that, because I didn't know what that meant.

There were also rules that I did not yet understand. He told me, "We don't work on Shabbat." I asked him why, and he explained that Father had rested on that day so He wanted us to rest too. My teacher told me to wear tzitzit. Again, I asked why, and he explained that the tzitzit would remind me to do all the other commandments.

Then he told me that I should never wear a garment made of both wool and linen. I asked him why, and this time he told me "I don't know." I was astonished, and proud that I had stumped him. Then I asked him why he did it if he did not know why he was doing it. He told me "Because G‑d said so. We must understand that we live in His world and follow His laws. We must follow them whether we want to or not. This shows that we do the mitzvot because of an unwavering faith which insists that whatever He says must be true."

I was incredulous.

His demands, as they were, sat well with me. After all He created us so He wanted us to be subservient to Him. I wondered though, how I was supposed to show that I was proud to be His son, if I was denied any rights or desires of my own. It seemed as if there were no room for tea parties and amiability in this family structure. I was to toe the line and be a good soldier, but nobody wanted to hear my opinion.

I have since made peace with it, and learned to follow orders because I must, even if I want to follow them anyway.

Soon I came across something even more bewildering: the sacrifice. At least the laws taught me that my job in this world is to fear His presence, and to follow orders humbly. The sacrifices took things to a whole different level though.

The pleasure G‑d derives from the sacrifice has nothing to do with us at all. In fact, G‑d derives pleasure from it because it has nothing to do with us. True, we have no idea why slaughtering an animal and sacrificing it works to have us absolved from sin, and we do it anyway. This time though, G‑d is not enjoying the fear it instils in our hearts. This time, G‑d enjoys it because the Jew is following his directives with out creating any positive feelings of his own. G‑d tells us that he wants us to gain nothing at all from offering sacrifices, and to do it anyway "Because I said so". That makes G‑d especially proud.

In that case, our role in the offering of sacrifices is to be completely ignored. It is to act as if our existence counts for nothing. How can any son make his father proud if his job requirements entail: Act as if you do not exist? This question has remained with me for a long time.

Time has passed and I am now the proud father of two young boys. On a recent evening, I was reclining on the couch, watching the older one play. He is nineteen months old now, and treats his Lego set like a gift from Tiffany's.

Faced by the architecting and contracting rigours demanded in Lego building, his chubby fingers are often challenged to a state of despondency. This time though, he refused to quit. Watching him work, I resisted the urge to help him knowing that my urge was born of compassion, not deliberation. Perspiration filled his brow and determination filled his eyes but when he finally succeeded he looked down at his handiwork with joy. Then he looked up and noticed how happy I was, and his heart filled with glee.

And I finally got it.

There is room for pride and joy in this relationship, but not the kind I was looking for. Happiness should not come when our Lego bicycle is successfully built. Our joy must come only because He is happy about it. In fact our joy must not even be derived from his delight in our success; it must come only from knowing that He is smiling.

May it be your will, lord our G‑d of our fathers, that the prayer of our lips be regarded and accepted by you as if we had offered the daily sacrifice at its appointed time.