Tale Two Daily

  • Rav Yaakov Beasley








By Rabbi Yaakov Beasley



Our parasha concludes (apparently) the listing of the vessels and garments necessary for the Mishkan's (the Tabernacle) functioning.  Chapter 29 concludes this list unexpectedly with the commandment to offer a daily sacrifice – The korban tamid, twice daily:


38 Now this is that which you shall offer upon the altar: two lambs of the first year day by day continually. 39 The one lamb you shall offer in the morning; and the other lamb you shall offer at dusk. 40 And with the one lamb a tenth part of an ephah of fine flour mingled with the fourth part of a hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of a hin of wine for a drink-offering. 41 And the other lamb you shall offer at dusk, and shall do thereto according to the meal-offering of the morning, and according to the drink-offering thereof, for a sweet savor, an offering made by fire unto Hashem. 42 It shall be a continual burnt-offering throughout your generations at the door of the tent of meeting before Hashem, where I will meet with you, to speak there unto thee. 43 And there I will meet with the children of Israel; and [the Tent] shall be sanctified by My glory. 44 And I will sanctify the tent of meeting, and the altar; Aaron also and his sons will I sanctify, to minister to Me in the priest's office. 45 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. 46 And they shall know that I am Hashem their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I am Hashem their God.


Immediately, the Abrabanel asks:


Why of all the offerings Israel was going to present in the future did God give here the instructions relating to the daily sacrifices and not to those referring to the others commanded later in the first two weekly portions of Leviticus or to the musaf (Additional) offerings stated in parashat Pinchas (Book of Numbers)? They would be expected to be stated each in its place but why are the laws of the daily offerings, which are repeated in their respective passages, stated here?


He answers this question by noting that these instructions are given before Benei Yisrael's first, great failure – the sin of the Golden Calf.  This is no coincidence, suggests the Abrabanel:


Fearing that people will think that since our God has put it into our nature to sin, He commanded us the laws relating to the altar and the offerings, as if He were pleased that we sin and then repent. This is wrong since God gave us the Commandments concerning the offerings only after the sin of the Golden Calf when He saw that the people are inclined to evil and ready to sin. It was then that He provided the cure through the offerings to be applied when necessary. Hence He then gave the laws concerning the altar, the appointment of the priests to perform the service and the sanctity of the altar and its consecration as it is stated, “And this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs of the first year” to teach that the desired goal of the altar and the service of the priests is not the atonement for sins, for it is better that man not sin and not bring an offering in expiation, but rather to offer daily sacrifices in the morning and the evening, which are not for the atonement of sins, but as a token of gratitude to God for all the kindnesses He has shown His people.


Therefore, according to the Abrabanel, unlike the other sacrifices whose role was to provide atonement after the sin of the Golden Calf, the daily sacrifice comes to thank Hashem for His kindnesses.  The Abrabanel lists two acts of kindness that Hashem performed, the Exodus from Egypt, which was their physical redemption, and the Giving of the Torah at Har Sinai, which was their spiritual redemption.  Developing this idea further, he suggests that the morning sacrifice symbolizes the giving of the Torah, which occurred in the morning, and that the afternoon sacrifice reminds us of the korban pesach, which is offered in the late afternoon as well.


The Abrabanel then quotes an unnamed contemporary, similar to the distinction between the physical and spiritual gifts that he suggested.  The two sheep represent our feeling of gratitude for the gifts of life and livelihood.  In the morning, upon waking up and shaking off "sleep, death's counterfeit" (Macbeth 2:3), we bring the morning offering to thank Hashem for the simple gift of life.  In the afternoon, after we have worked for our daily bread, we offer a second sacrifice to reflect our appreciation for what we have received. 


Why did the Torah then need to repeat these laws again in parashat Pinchas?  According to Rashi, the second description is the rule that applied for all time.  The verses here, he suggests, only applied to the seven days of the installation of the Mishkan.  This approach is challenged immediately by the Ibn Ezra and the Ramban, who argue that the reason that the daily sacrifice is repeated is so that all of the communal offerings can be recorded together.  The Seforno (in parashat Beshalach) suggests a different distinction, similar to the words of the Abrabanel above.  Prior to the sin of the Golden Calf, the sacrifices only functioned to offer a "sweet savor" before Hashem.  Following the sin, however, meal and wine offerings were added to the korban tamid and other communal offerings as atonement.  Following the sin of the spies, meal and wine offerings were also added to individual offerings.


Why was the daily sacrifice selected to connect to the conclusion of the greater command to construct the Mishkan?  Rav Elchanan Samet writes (http://www.vbm-torah.org/parsha.63/20tetzave.htm):


We find that the command concerning the construction of the Mishkan is located in its entirety in between the parasha of the ark at its beginning and the parasha of the daily sacrifices at its conclusion. These bookends frame the encounter between God and man: on the one hand, the covering of the Keruvim, which is in the most hidden part of the Mishkan – "and I SHALL MEET THERE with you and I SHALL SPEAK WITH YOU…" (25:22), and on the other hand, the sacrificial altar that is external and exposed: "a daily sacrifice… at the entrance to the Sanctuary… where I SHALL MEET with you, TO SPEAK with you there" (29:42).


Both the Aron Ha-kodesh and the korban tamid represent, according to this approach, the ongoing communication between Hashem and His people.  Through Torah, contained within the Aron, and the Divine Voice that spoke from above the Keruvim, Hashem communicated his will to Benei Yisrael.  Through their consistent and daily offerings, Benei Yisrael demonstrated their internalization of the lessons and values of their Divine mission.  We conclude with a quote from R. Ya'akov Ibn Habib’s Introduction to his work Ein Ya’akov.  Referencing a three-way Ta'anitic disagreement as to which verse in the Torah was the most important, the Ein Yaakov concludes that the most important verse was found in our section – "The one lamb you shall offer in the morning; and the other lamb you shall offer at dusk":


"Ben Zoma holds that the greatest principle in the Torah, the pivot around which all revolves is the faith which the Torah indicates in the verse, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. Ben Nanas is of the opinion that as far as the great masses are concerned the more important and more comprehensive principle is “to do justice and to love goodness” in relations between man and man. This is alluded to in “love your neighbor as yourself” as it happened to Hillel when a pagan came before him asking to be converted on condition that he teach him the Torah while standing on one leg, and Hillel told him: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Ben Pazi was more analytical dividing good deeds into two categories, one among men and the other between man and God, e.g., the sacrificial service. For the latter he drew on the verse, “one lamb…” which represents the sacrificial service to serve God. The halakha follows Ben Pazi because he joins genuine faith with the importance of good deeds."