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Pinchas/Matot-Masei

THE MESSAGE OF THE DAILY OFFERING

By: Rabbi Barak Bar-Chaim

Our Sages debate which verse in the Torah is the most fundamental verse, encapsulating the entire Torah. The opinion of Rebbi Akiva, that "Love thy neighbor as oneself" is the most fundamental verse, is well known. There is, however, another opinion that the most important verse in the Torah is the following verse dealing with the daily sacrifice: “The one lamb you shall offer up in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer up in the afternoon.” (Numbers 28,4) This opinion is difficult to understand. Firstly, we have commandments like Shabbat, loving God, etc., that seem to be far more fundamental than the instruction of the daily sacrifice. Secondly, the daily sacrifice is only applicable in Temple times. Is it possible that the most fundamental precept does not apply today, because we do not have the Temple in which to perform the daily sacrifice?

The great 16th century scholar, the Maharal of Prague, explains this opinion as follows. The purpose of the entire Torah is to provide guidance on becoming a true servant of God. The Maharal explains that the true servant serves his/her master day in and day out. One who is willing to serve his/her master on some days but not on others, is a freelance worker and not a true servant. Consistent daily service defines the committed servant. This verse, dealing with the daily service, is the most important verse in the Torah because it defines the ideal of being a true servant – being committed to the service of God each and every day.

It is challenging to be consistent and to do something every day. We don’t always feel inspired and motivated, we get distracted, and the natural laziness of the physical body also makes consistency challenging. In our daily study of Path of The Just, we came across a very useful piece of advice in this regard. Rabbi Luzzatto explains that when you are not feeling internally motivated, get your physical body moving quickly towards yosur goal. You will then notice that your internal motivation will follow. To put it another way – energize the body and you will energize the mind. My personal experience has similarly shown me that the most difficult task is beginning spiritual service, whether that is learning Torah or praying. Once one begins, one becomes energized. The lesson is to follow the Nike slogan and ‘Just Do It’.

Thu, August 13 2020 23 Av 5780