Parshas Tetzaveh : Our sedra has something unique; it is the only sedra from Moshe’s birth until his death in which his name is not mentioned (apart from Chumash Devarim, when Moshe is speaking). But what our sedra does have is HaShem’s Commands to Moshe to ostensibly ‘set things in motion’ for the mishkan’s everyday work to get underway; Aharon is to be sanctified as the kohen gadol, his special clothes are to be made, and the instructions for the inauguration sacrifices (both for Aharon and the mishkan in general) are given. However, as things reach a climax, we are then commanded about the good old tamid offerings that are offered twice daily every day at the start and end of the daily mishkan service (29; 38-42). Question one must therefore be; what are the normal everyday tamid offerings doing in the middle of the one-off inauguration sacrifices? And not only are the tamid sacrifices mentioned, they are followed immediately by psukim referring to HaShem dwelling in the mishkan and amongst the Bnei Yisrael; implying that the tamids were central to this result; how so?

The idea is that there are some mitzvos and events which are relatively common (eg Torah study, tefillah, brachos, Shabbes, etc.), whilst others do not come about so often. We tend to attach prime importance to the rarer mitzvos/events, but the opposite should be true. We have a rule that tadir v’sheino tadir, tadir kodem - that the frequent should be put before that which is more infrequent. [This is why, for example, we say retzei before ya’aleh ve’yavo when Yom Tov is on Shabbes.] And so too does the daily korban tamid come before any other korban in the daily service, and the evening tamid is the last sacrifice of the day - apart from on Pesach, when the korban pesach is last. Why is it that we should attach more importance to those mitzvos which are more frequent?

Let’s borrow an explanation I once heard by Rav Miller. We have said before that the physical world reflects the spiritual world, with previous implications being the importance of beginnings, etc. Another wonder of the physical world is that the more vital a thing is to our physical life, the more it is provided for us. For example, the most basic need of a human is oxygen, and this is provided vastly and for free. Next comes the need for food, and again, we have been given plenty; fruit and vegetables from fields, trees, etc, and meat from Wales (!). And water is also relatively commonplace; another need for life. This idea is hinted at by Rashi (Taanis 3a ‘lefi’) who comments that the reason for gemarra’s fact that dew and wind do not cease, is because they are needed for the world’s continued existence. The parallel of this in the spiritual world is that to the extent that something is necessary for our spiritual lives, the more it is provided in terms of frequency of mitzvos. Consequently, the three things upon which the world stands (Avos 1;2) are Torah, Tefillah, and Chesed, which, apart from being daily features of Jew’s life, are not limited to certain times. Thus, apart from set times, Torah is supposed to be learnt whenever one can find time, and its effects are certainly not limited to the times in which one learns. Moreover, Tefillah is not limited to three set times a day, but one is supposed to call out in any prayer whenever one finds themselves in pain or anxiety (the Ramban says that this is a Torah mitzvah). And Chesed, apart from being an action practiced many times a day (often with us unaware; e.g. handing the phone to someone), is a trait to be ingrained within oneself as a giving person - which resonates throughout the day even if it is not expressed in constant giving. This is rather logical; it makes sense that something which is needed for our spiritual being should be practiced at least every day, not just once a year. [There are exceptions; some things might be infrequent because they comprise of a limited opportunity, eg Yom Kippur’s Teshuva.] As a result, more importance is attached to those mitzvos which are more frequent in general, for this means they are more crucial to our spiritual makeup; tadir kodem. With this idea, we can return to our opening questions. Perhaps the reason why the korban tamid is mentioned amongst the once-in-a-lifetime mishkan inauguration sacrifices, and that it is followed by the psukim regarding HaShem’s Presence amongst us, is to convey the point that although there are the one-off korbanos, it is the constant, consistent daily staple diet of korban tamid that brings HaShem’ Presence to rest within us, so to speak. In other words, it is the slower, consistent work rather than the one-off flashes that brings the desired result. This also explains the psukim at the start of parshas Beshalach; HaShem does not lead us through the quicker route of Eretz Plishtim to go from Egypt to the Land of Israel, ‘for it is too near…and the people might regret and turn back when they encounter war (there)’ (Shemos 13;17). Why does the fact that it’s near mean that we will return to Egypt when we see war? Rashi comments that since it’s near it is quicker to go back. But perhaps another level is that because it was near, one would not need to accomplish much to walk through the land to get to the Land of Israel, and the first deterrent might cause the Bnei Yisrael to lose hope and return to Egypt. But going through the desert took more effort and trust on HaShem for our daily needs, and so we had accomplished things on a day-to-day basis. Consequently, we would be less likely to give up when faced with a deterrent, for we had already overcome challenges and progressed physically and spiritually - so we would be less willing to give it all up. In short, going through the land of the Philistines would be a quick fix story of ‘easy come, easy go,’ and of a quick return to Egypt. It was the slow spiritual journey of the desert that ensured a firm base and security against return to Egypt.

In fact, the chovas halevavos uses this concept as its underlying basis. In his introduction, he divides the mitzvos into two categories; mitzvos which comprise of bodily actions (chovas ha’eivarim - ‘duties of the limbs;’ lighting candles, putting on tefillin, etc) and mitzvos which are based in the mind and heart (chovas halevavos - ‘duties of the heart;’ emunah, bitachon, etc.) He points out the primacy of the chovas halevavos over the chovas ha’eivarim by noting that the former are constant obligations, whilst the latter’s obligations are at specific set times. This mirrors the above concept in that the mitzvos which are more frequent command prime importance.

Lastly, let’s quote an insight of R’ Chaim Shmulevitz on the subject. The gemarra (nedarim 50a) recounts that (to-be Rabbi) Akiva, at the age of forty and being ignorant of Torah, went to learn for twelve years under the tutorage of the great sages Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua, with the permission, blessing, and relief of his wife Rachel. After twelve years, he was finally making the return journey back home and upon approaching his house, he overheard someone making fun of him to Rachel, his wife, about how he had ‘abandoned’ her. Responded Rachel ‘I would be happy if he even went back to learn for another twelve years.’ So, without going in to see his wife, R’ Akiva went back for another twelve years, and only then did he return - with 24,000 students and ultimately merited to uphold the oral law. Asks R’ Shmulevitz; why did Rabbi Akiva turn back to go for another twelve years; he knew that his wife had given him permission to return; why not go in and see her for the first time in twelve years? He answers that going back into his house and seeing his wife would have caused a break between his periods of study; and would thus [on his level] make it two periods of 12 years, as opposed to one of 24 years, in which much more could cumulatively be accomplished. Again, the idea is one of consistency; even over a 24-year period! Have a great Shabbes,

Add comment

Have something to say?
Please make your comment below!
All comments are reviewed prior to publication. Absolutely NO loshon hara or anything derogatory or hurtful to anyone will be permitted on the website.


Security code
Refresh