A Little is EnoughIf you were a little fly on the wall of the Tabernacle or Temple you would notice a curious aspect of the sacrificial rite, namely the daily offerings. Each morning, at dawn’s earliest light, a sheep offering was made. Every day the same kind of sheep with the same amount of libation, at the same exact time. Every evening, no matter how busy the altar was during the day, space was cleared for another sheep. Once again, the same kind of sheep, the same kind of libation at approximately the same time of day.
The first and last offering of the day, was a single sheep. Not an expensive ox, just a small sheep. There were no showy loaves of bread, just a measure of flower and some wine for libation. If you break down the cost of the daily offering and divide it among the entire nation, you will see that the cost to the individual Jew, was next to nothing. What is the value of an offering that costs almost nothing? The answer is that an offering need not cost much, but it must come from the heart.
Although the Temple was destroyed and we no longer offer animal sacrifices, the laws of the Torah are eternal. Where we can’t apply them literally, we are expected to apply them figuratively.
The figurative daily offering in our own lives need not take a lot of time, nor must it cost a lot of money. The key is that it be done daily and that it be done with heart.
We refer here to the twin prayers that are recited in bed; the first just apon waking, the second just before going to sleep. When we awaken in the morning, we sit up in bed and recite, “Thank you G-d, living and eternal king, for returning my soul to me, great is your faithfulness.” Just before falling asleep, we say, “in your hands, I entrust my soul, Redeem me, G-d, the true Lord.”
Succinct, but to the point. These twin prayers don’t take long to recite. They cost no money at all, but they capture the entire heart. The whole of our relationship with G-d, our trust, gratitude, dependence and love, are captured in these short lines. They don’t need to take up our entire day, and they don’t need to cost our entire wallet. But they do need to capture our entire heart.
The message is that you don’t need to do something showy to connect with G-d. The daily offering can be achieved with something short and to the point.
A ConstantWe don’t mean to suggest that two prayers are all we need for the entire day. Just as the daily offerings were not the only offerings of the day so are our daily offerings not the only prayer or good deed of our day. Throughout the day there will be more prayers and more good deeds. But if the day begins and ends with these sincere prayers, then the whole day will be one long offering.
Therefore, the Torah refers to the daily offering as the constant offerings. They only come twice a day; there is nothing constant about them. Yet, if they bracket our day with complete sincerity, they will be noticeable in everything we do throughout the day.
As we pray, as we work, as we eat, as we exercise, it will be noticeable that it is a Jew, who loves G-d, who feels dependent on G-d, who trusts G-d, that is eating, playing, working, exercising or sleeping. As we pray or study, as we visit friends or help a child cross the street, as we carry a bag for an old lady or give a neighbor a helping hand, the sincerity of our daily offering will be with us. It will be noticeable all the time, and with that, it will be constant.