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B'Midbar/Numbers 28:4 You shall make one lamb in the morning and you shall make one lamb between the twilights
HaShem is directing Moshe to repeat the instructions for the tamid, the regular sacrifice, that were previously taught to the wilderness generation - "Now this is what you shall offer upon the altar: two yearling lambs each day, regularly. You shall offer the one lamb in the morning, and you shall offer the other lamb at twilight" (Shemot 29:38-39, JPS) - to their children as part of their preparation for entering the Land: remember to bring the daily offerings. Given that Moshe clearly said that this was to be "a regular burnt offering throughout the generations" (v. 42, JPS), the commentators want to know why the instructions are repeated here. Rashi suggests that since the first command was given in the context of the instructions for making and building the tabernacle, it might have been taken as a "commandment for the days of the inauguration" of Aharon and his sons into the priesthood, with our text being the commandment for future generations. Chizkuni agrees, affirming that "Rashi plausibly assumes that this refers no more than to a minimum of two generations - the wilderness generation and that succeeding it. So this command for all future generations is indeed necessary."
The difference between , "the lamb, one" and , "the lamb, the second" also generates comment. Why should a definite article be missing in with the first number and present in the second? Rabbi Whois(Left, Hirsch) suggests that the first says "one lamb" because "only one lamb is brought for the nation", making it a - an offering of the community1, from the nation as a whole - so that a similar offering could not be brought by an individual. Taking a different idea, DonAbravanel proposed that the first half of the verse should be translated, "you shall offer a special lamb in the morning", meaning: the better of the two for that day. He explains that "the morning lamb represented the giving of the Torah, which happened during the day, and the evening lamb represented the the exodus and the original passover offering, which took place at night."
Hebrew syntax has three endings for number: singular, dual and plural - one, two, more than two. The ending on is the dual ending: there are exactly two and no more twilights. The first is when the sun sets; the second when the light in the sky falls and it goes dark. The same time coordinates are given for the sacrifice of the Pesach offering, which is to be slaughtered: ", between the twilights" (Shemot 12:6). But what time of day - in modern time - was this? The Talmud records Raba2 saying, "The duty of the tamid properly begins from when the evening shadows begin to fall" (b. Pesachim 58a), technically any time after midday when a shadow can clearly be seen. Jacob Milgrom firmly says that "'at twilight' is a term that clearly means the time between sunset and dark" and adds: "This would imply that the tamid was the very last sacrifice of the day before the Temple doors were closed. The rabbis, however, interpret the term to mean the waning day of afternoon, which they specify as the ninth hour or about 3pm (m. Pesachim 5:1)".
Many of the surrounding nations in the Ancient Near East offered daily sacrifices to their gods. Varying from once to three or four times a day, these were the foods for the gods and were many and sumptuous with dozens of different animals, foodstuffs, beverages and seasonings. Truly, the priests of these gods ate well from their masters' tables. Milgrom points out that the Israelite cultic offerings were in sharp contrast to the luxurious food and heavy demands of the pagan gods: "the tamid was restricted to the essential staples of the Israelite diet: the flesh of lambs (the most inexpensive meat) and a portion of the three most abundant crops - from which first fruits were prescribed - wheat, wine and (olive) oil." HaShem did not ask for expensive and difficult to obtain sacrifices; provided that the animals were without blemish, He asked only what the average Israelite would themselves eat, not as food for Himself, but as a means of participating in the everyday life of Israel, "an offering by fire of pleasing odour to the L-RD" (B'Midbar 28:6, JPS).
The Torah also includes the following instructions as part of the regulations for the daily offering: "Be punctilious in presenting the offerings to Me at stated times" (28:2, JPS) and "offerings by fire that you are to present to the L-RD as a regular burnt offering every day" (v. 3, JPS). Although we have dealt with the timing for the second offering above, there is no specific timing in the text, apart from "in the morning", for the first offering of the day. How can one be punctilious about such vagueness? While there could be only one daily morning offering at one time at the Tabernacle or the Temple, prayer can be held in multiple locations and at multiple times. Indeed, within the Jewish world, the Shacharit prayer service can be found for early workers from dawn onwards, through to mid-morning for people who are retired or on holiday. Perhaps the overall effect is simply that it should be done every day, at a regular or convenient time. The Torah seems to be saying that these are offerings of relationship; they are the means that Israel as a people turning up and demonstrating commitment to their relationship with G-d.
The counterpoint to this was given back at Sinai: "a regular burnt offering throughout the generations, at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting before the L-RD. For there I will meet with you, and there I will speak with you" (Shemot 29:42, JPS). Because it is a relationship, when we show up, HaShem turns up. This is not an idle promise or a throw-away remark; HaShem doesn't do those. He has made a significant commitment: He will be there! In Bible times, this meant that any Israelite who wanted to speak with G-d just had to show up at the Tabernacle or Temple at the time of the morning or evening sacrifice, expecting to meet with G-d, and that meeting was guaranteed. By extension, this would mean that at any Shacharit or Minchah prayer service, anywhere around in the world, in whatever country or timezone, worshippers could expect to meet with G-d and hear Him speaking to them, even in the Diaspora. The Torah tells us that when Ya'akov left the Land of Israel to seek a wife (and safety) with his mother's family in Padan Aram, HaShem told him, "Remember, I am with you: I will protect you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you" (B'resheet 28:15, JPS); HaShem went too! The Sages of the Talmud teach that when and wherever Israel went into Exile, HaShem went too: "Rabbi Simon ben Yohai said: Come and see how beloved are Israel in the sight of God, in that to every place to which they were exiled the Shechinah went with them. They were exiled to Egypt and the Shechinah was with them, as it says, 'Did I reveal myself unto the house of your father when they were in Egypt' (1 Samuel 2:27). They were exiled to Babylon, and the Shechinah was with them, as it says, 'for your sake I was sent to Babylon' (Isaiah 43:14). And when they will be redeemed in the future, the Shechinah will be with them, as it says, 'Then the Lord your God will return [with] your captivity' (D'varim 30:3). It does not say here 'and he shall bring back' but 'and he shall return'. This teaches us that the Holy One, blessed be He, will return with them from the places of exile" (b. Megilla 29a).
This promise of the presence of G-d should not surprise us. Yeshua told the disciples that "wherever two or three are assembled in My name, I am there with them" (Matthew 18:20, CJB). Even individuals are covered: "If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there will my servant be also" (John 12:26, ESV). So the question seems clear: Are we regular in our commitment to turn up before the L-rd and give Him our time, so that He may give us His time? Notice that this is not luxury, extravagant, family-denying time - this may be appropriate on occasion, but we are not to justify ourselves by the amount of time we spend in study and prayer or to deprive our families (either of our presence or our time to earn money to feed them and ourselves) - but simply time so that He is a part of the family. Our children need to know that we spend regular, committed time with G-d every day, just as we spend regular committed time with them every day. If we are spending so much time with G-d that we don't have time to spend with our spouse or our children, then we have the balance wrong. G-d asked the Israelites for the least expensive meat and portions of the three commonest non-meat foods - what they could afford. He asks us the same!
1. - literally, "an offering of the heap", from the root , to heap up or collect together
2. - Raba bar Joseph bar Ḥama was a fourth generation Babylonian sage, who taught at Maḥoza on the Tigris. The Talmud records many debates between Raba and Abaye; in most cases, the halachah follows Raba.
Further Study: Ezra 3:1-3; Psalm 91:14-16; John 17:24
How much time do you spend with G-d each day? Is it regular and sufficient?
Could it be excessive and family-denying? We must get that balance right -
ask G-d to show you the right line today.
© Jonathan Allen, 2015
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© Jonathan Allen, 2015
Your turn - what do you think of the ideas in this drash ?Like most print and online magazines, we reserve the right to edit or publish only those comments we feel are edifying in tone and content.