[A further concept can be derived from the fact that] in the Midrash citedpreviously, an analogy is given of a king, a duke, [and other officers]. In the analogy [— in contrast to the analogue1 —] the duke [and the other officers] have free choice. Therefore it is logical to assume that the choice of the duke (“I will choose a duke as my patron”) will motivate the duke to convey a greater amount of influence to those who choose him.2 {In the analogue, this is not so. The service of the stars and the constellations is of absolutely no benefit because they do not have free choice; [they are merely “an ax in the hands of the Chopper”].}

From this, it can be understood that the clever person’s decision, “I will choose the king,” is motivated by the fact that the king’s service is of greater import to him than the benefit (influence) he will receive from the officers. To refer to the analogue: The primary reason the nations of the world serve [the intermediaries that convey Divine influence, e.g.,] the sun, the moon, etc., and the Jewish people serve G‑d is (not that the gentiles err and maintain that [the intermediaries,] the stars, the constellations, and the like have free choice, while the Jews, by contrast, know the truth that [the intermediaries] are merely “an ax in the hands of the Chopper.” Instead, [the fundamental reason is that]) what is most important for the nations of the world is that they receive the influence, while what is most important for the Jews is serving the King.3

To explain the concept: The fundamental reason that the gentile nations serve the stars and the constellations (as explained in the maamarim),4 is that in order to receive influence from holiness, bittul is necessary. Since they do not desire to nullify themselves, they [choose] to serve false deities. For to receive influence from them, bittul is not required, as the Zohar states:5 “A spirit of impurity is continuously found where there is no cost and there is emptiness, as it is written:6 ‘… We ate in Egypt without charge.’ ” Implied is that influence from the nether side7 (Egypt) is provided without cost.

A second reason why the non-Jewish nations seek to receive their influence from the stars and the constellations8 is that the influence that is drawn down through the stars and the constellations is quantitatively greater. [To explain:] The nurture received by the nether side comes from G‑d’s encompassing light (or makkif) that is above the framework of the Spiri­tual Cosmos.9 Influence that emanates from there is given without any calculations.10 Hence, it is granted in abundance.11

On this basis, we can appreciate the unique positive quality and “cleverness” of the Jewish people who serve only the Holy One, blessed be He. To receive influence from the realm of holiness, service and labor is required. Moreover, (initially,)12 the influence is measured, meted out in a manner commensurate to the Divine service performed. Nevertheless, [for the sake of serving G‑d alone,] the Jews are willing to forego the abundant (material) influence that could be received. {For even the Jewish people can (temporarily) receive influence from the nether side.13 Indeed, [when doing so,] they receive the first and choicest portion.14 Nevertheless, they are willing to forego this} because they cherish more the limited [holy] influence that they receive from the realm of holiness.