ועבדתם את ה’ אלקיכם וברך את לחמך ואת מימיך והסרתי מחלה מקרבך וגו’ … כג-כה
After delivering the Ten Commandments, and “starting us off” with a great deal of interpersonal mitzvos – bein adam l’chaveiro, Hashem now issues a new command: The Jewish people must serve Him with all their might and in turn, He will bless them. It is interesting to note that the command here to serve Hashem is written in the plural form – “ועבדתם את ה’ אלקיכם” – whereas the resultant blessing is phrased in the singular – “וברך את לחמך ואת מימיך”. What is the significance of this wording?
R’ Tzadok Hakohen ZT”L, in Pri Tzaddik explains: Avodah represents the “service of the heart,” which refers to Tefillah – prayer. In this respect, prayer is different from other “services” in that each and every person has his own way, unique unto himself, in serving Hashem. Thus, tefillah is an avodah that is described in our posuk in a plural sense, since it takes on many different and unique forms and expressions. However, prayer also has the ability to unify individuals for the purpose of praising and glorifying Hashem. Although it may come from many different sources, the ultimate result is a unification of Jews in the service of Hashem. It is then, says the posuk, that Bnei Yisroel will collectively merit to receive a blessing on “your bread and water,” which chazal refer to as תורה שבכתב – Written Law, and תורה שבעל פה – Oral Law. An individual’s success in Torah is part of a collective blessing resulting from a unified devotion to Hakadosh Boruch Hu!
The same is true on a literal level as well. Unity in Avodas Hashem brings the Jewish people collective sustenance and personal health as well, because “והסרתי מחלה מקרבך” – “I will remove sickness from within your midst,” is also written in the singular. When we will raise our collective voices Heavenward, and unify the entire Jewish nation around the flag of Torah, we may then merit the collective berachah – spiritually and physically – to which the Torah refers.