Amongst the long list of sacrifices brought on various occasions mentioned in this week’s Parsha, the first offering is the Korban Tamid – the Daily Sacrifice. When the Temple stood, there was a Biblical command to offer a Tamid offering twice daily every day of the year, including Shabbat and on Yom Kippur. “One lamb is to be offered in the morning, and one lamb is to be brought toward the evening” (Bamidbar 28:4).
Consistency conveys commitment. It is imperative in all vital areas of life, job, health, marriage, and spiritual matters, like daily Torah study and prayer. One of the reasons we fast on the 17th of Tammuz was because the Tamid sacrifice was stopped, bringing an abrupt end to the consistency of the daily offering in the service of the Bet Hamikdash.
But consistency has a major pitfall.
An incongruous verse hints at this pitfall in the middle of the chapter of the Daily Sacrifice. For no apparent reason, the Torah inserts, into the description of the Korban Tamid, the verse, “The continual burnt offering which was made at Mt. Sinai for a pleasant aroma, a fire offering, before G-d (Bamidbar 28:6).”
What significance does the Olah sacrifice historically brought on Mt. Sinai have to do with this section about the daily sacrifice? This verse seemingly is out of place?
Rav Yosef Salant (1786–1866, the primary teacher of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter) suggests that this passuk relates to this pitfall of consistency. When something is done day in day out, as wonderful as it may be, it eventually becomes done by rote, automatic without thought.
Watch a Bar Mitzvah boy put on Tefillin, making sure they are straight and tight enough and every strap is in order. We can look and say we’ve never missed a day! But that ‘Tamid’ – consistency becomes ‘old hat’ and sometimes lacks the true meaning of the Mitzvah. That is the pitfall of Tamid.
Therefore, the Torah inserts “The continuous burnt offering that was offered on Mt. Sinai for a pleasant aroma, a fire offering before HaShem,” in the middle of the part of the Korban Tamid that applies for all generations. Remember that first Tamid brought on Har Sinai with all the enthusiasm and newness and excitement. We cannot lose the value of consistency by letting that very value become the pitfall. There should always be a little of that Tamid – brought on Har Sinai, in the Tamid brought every day.
That is the lesson of the Korban Tamid. Our Avodat HaShem – service of G-d, needs to be consistent “One every morning and one every evening,” but also must be done with freshness and passion “like the first one offered, on Mt. Sinai.”
Rabbi Shlomo Gabay