Difference Between Work and Service
In the conclusion of the Book of Shemos, the Torah portion of Pekudei, it records in Perek 39:
|42. In accordance with all that the Lord had commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel do all the work.||מבכְּכֹ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֥ה יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶת־משֶׁ֑ה כֵּ֤ן עָשׂוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֵ֖ת כָּל־הָֽעֲבֹדָֽה:|
|43Moses saw the entire work, and lo! they had done it-as the Lord had commanded, so had they done. So Moses blessed them.||מגוַיַּ֨רְא משֶׁ֜ה אֶת־כָּל־הַמְּלָאכָ֗ה וְהִנֵּה֙ עָשׂ֣וּ אֹתָ֔הּ כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֛ר צִוָּ֥ה יְהֹוָ֖ה כֵּ֣ן עָשׂ֑וּ וַיְבָ֥רֶךְ אֹתָ֖ם משֶֽׁה:|
Rabbeinu Bachye observes in pasuk 42 that it should have said כל המלאכה, all the work, but instead the Torah calls the work of the mishkan an עבודה, which is better translated as a service. Meaning, that they did the service of Hashem, just as it writes in Shemos (23:25), “And you shall serve Hashem your G-D,” and also in Devarim perek (13:5), “And Him shall you serve.” (Click here for Hebrew text.)
In the very next pasuk we see that it says Moshe ‘saw the entire work,’ so it makes sense that the previous pasuk refers to the same thing; however the term used is ‘service,’ not ‘work.’ The reason for this is to teach us that the Jews weren’t just treating the building of the Mishkan like any other building, but they had the attitude that they were serving Hashem through its building.
But what if they hadn’t had this attitude; wouldn’t they still be building Hashem’s palace, the resting place of the Shechina, Hashem’s Holy Presence, in this world? So either way they would be doing Hashem’s handiwork.
It would seem from here that without the proper intentions, even if you are doing the most holy of jobs, it is simply a job. But if your motivation is that I am working to serve Hashem, then it is transformed into serving Hashem.
Attitudes have such a transformative effect!