Towards the end of Parashat Lekh-Lekha, we read of God’s command to Avraham to perform circumcision, which He introduces by instructing, “Hit’haleikh lefanai” – literally, “Walk before Me” (17:1). Targum Onkelos translates this to mean, “Pelach kadamai” – serve Me.”
Rashi cites Onkelos’ Aramaic translation – “pelach kadamai” – and then explains that this means, “hidaveik ba-avodati” – “adhere to My service.” Significantly, as some have noted, Rashi adds the element of “adherence” to Onkelos’ translation. Whereas Onkelos translates God’s command simply as “serve Me,” Rashi found it necessary to explain that this refers to “adhering” to God’s service.
Apparently, Rashi felt that by definition, being subservient to God means “adhering” to His service, remaining loyal and committed under all circumstances. If we serve God only when it is expedient or convenient, then we are not, in fact, serving Him. Service demands absolute and unconditional commitment, and thus Rashi explains “serve Me” to mean “adhere to My service” – because by definition, we serve God only by “adhering” to His service, by continuing to serve Him under all circumstances, even when it is not convenient, comfortable or easy.