This week’s parsha closes the commandments dealing with the construction of the mishkan. In last week’s parsha, Terumah, we read about the building of the mishkan itself, and of the assembly of the various holy vessels in the mishkan. In this week’s parsha we read about the garments of the Kohanim. (Many have pointed out the strange position of the instructions to make the inner mizbeach, the golden mizbeach, which would have fit in much better last week rather than this week where it actually appears).
In the middle of this week’s parsha we read about the process needed to sanctify the mishkan and the Kohanim. This seven day ceremony, the Miluim, was designed to inaugurate all elements associated with the mishkan. This particular part of the Parsha will be repeated at the end of parhsat Tzav, as it actually happens, leading up to Rosh Chodesh Nisan, the eight day in Parshat Shmini.
Upon concluding the instructions for the milluim we encounter pesukim that seem to be out of context. In perek 29 pesukim 38-46 we read of the Korban Tamid. We are to bring two sheep, each and every day on the outer mizbeach.
What bothers me about these pesukim is, that aside from the specific korbanot of the miluim we read about no others. All of the rules and regulations concerning any of the korbanot are contained in Sefer Vayikra and some in Bamidbar. What is the point of singling out the Tamid to be described specifically here? Sefer Shemot is all about the Exodus from Egypt and the construction of the Mishkan. What exactly the Mishkan was used for and just how to bring the korbanot is saved for later.
(One obvious solution would be to say that we are reading about the miluim and any part of those seven days is described as it was to take place, including the Tamid. This is not a reasonable answer due to the fact that the description of the miluim ended before the Tamid, and in addition in the parallel parsha in Tzav there is no mention whatsoever of the Tamid).
In typical Jewish form we will answer a question with a question. If we examine the other pace in the Torah that the Tamid is mentioned we notice a strange passuk.
In Bamidbar (28), Parshat Pinchas we have a full list of all of the holidays and the additional korbanot that are brought on each and every one. The list starts off with the Tamid which is once again described as one sheep in the morning and one in the afternoon. The Torah phrases this as the “Olat Tamid that was brought at Har Sinai”. What is meant by this reference, when was there a korban Tamid brought at Har Sinai?
Rashi offers two possible explanations:
1. The reference is to the pessukim in this week’s parsha which are part of the miluim ceremony, which geographically took place at Har Sinai. The obvious problem with this interpretation is that, despite the locale of the miluim as actually having been next to Har Sinai, it had nothing to do with “Har Sinai”- the concept. We generally don’t our use the term to describe the desert itself but rather we refer to the experience of Matan Torah.
2. The reference way be to the Korbanot that we offered at the end of the account of Matan Torah in Parshat Mishpatim. Here we are confronted by the opposite problem: The title “Har Sinai” fits in much better as we are describing not only the geography but the event as well. However we are left wondering what those korbanot that were brought have to do with the Tamid. The korbanot in question were a one time event, how is this related to the ongoing obligation of the Korban Tamid?
If we take these two problems and combine them I think we may have a partial solution.
I think it can be safely said that the Tamid is much more than the average Korban. The Torah, when describing the obligation to bring it, sends us back to either Matan Torah or the inauguration of the Mishkan. These two seminal events are milestones of our religious history. (According to the Ramban the Mishkan in fact was meant to perpetuate Matan Torah and the gilui shchina experienced there). The Tamid is meant in some way to embody that message.
To paraphrase the famous question: “How is this korban different from all other korbanot?”. This is not just another Korban, this korban is the pinnacle of the experience. The account of Matan Torah ends with the korban brought sealing the covenant between Am Yisrael and Hashem. The construction of the mishkan as well is culminated by the Tamid.
If we examine the pesukim carefully we see a clear framework starting at the beginning of Terumah where we are told “Make me a mikdash and I will dwell in them” and ends with “I will dwell in Am Yisrael…” The Tamid is within the framework. This is not simply a korban to be brought in the already erected mishkan, it is rather part of the construction. In order for the Mishkan to fulfill itself ultimate purpose the Tamid had to be offered.
The constant service of Hakosh Baruch Hu is essential to the very nature of the mishkan. If we are to build the Mishkan but not visit on an everyday basis, twice a day, we have missed the point of the Mishkan.
It is interesting to note that Chazal when enumerating the tragedies that befell our people on the 17th of Tamuz list the cessation of the Tamid as one of them. This was not simply one more korban that could not be offered, it was the beginning of the end. The lack of the constant connection to God was worthy of a fast day.
I would like to add remarks that I made in this forum two years ago that I think really round out the idea. The following is from the email shiur of Tezaveh 5763 which compliments the idea above:
The significance, I believe, is clear: The Mishkan and later the Mikdash are meant to form a permanent and everlasting presence of God amongst Am Yisrael “And I will dwell amongst them”. In turn, our commitment to the service in the Mikdash must be both consistent and constant. The relationship we forge with God cannot be one that is based on our convenience or mood, rather it must embody that which is stated in Tehillim “Shiviti Hashem Lenegdi Tamid” – Hashem is always present before me.
Supposedly there is a Midrash that expresses this very nicely (I say supposedly as I have searched for the Midrash for years without luck and lately I found it quoted by one of the Achronim as a Midrash that he heard but was unable to find). The Midrash is discussing what is to be considered “Klal Gadol” a cardinal rule in Judaism. Three opinions are quoted: The first points to “VeAhavta LeReacha KaMocha” – Love your neighbor as yourself. The second points to the first of the Ten Commandments, and the third quotes “The one sheep in the morning and the second in the evening”. When comparing the three positions the most shocking is the last one. While loving ones fellow Jew and belief in God seem to be better candidates I think that based on our ideas above we can, as well, understand the third opinion. The consistency of avodat Hashem the never ending dedication to the task of serving Hakadosh Baruch Hu is indeed a Klal Gadol- a cardinal rule.
In closing I would like to mention the one exception to the rule, where “tamid” is used not in connection to the Mishkan. In Devarim perek 11 we read “The land that you are entering to inherit…a land that God seeks, His eyes are constantly TAMID focused on it, from the start of the year until its end”.
The only exceptional use of this word is in relation to Eretz Yisrael. When it comes to Eretz Yisrael there is no such thing as times in which Hashem “ignores” us, He is constantly and consistently focused upon us. It is our challenge to make the same permanent commitment to Eretz Yisrael as we must to the Menorah, the Shulchan, the Tzitz, and all of the other elements of the Korbanot. Eretz Yisrael cannot be simply a place to send postcards from when times are good, it is our home and should be treated as such by all members of Am Yisrael.
In order to see the entire shiur and a discussion of the translation of the word Tamid please visit: