Saturday, December 7, 2013

#197 - ALWAYS Comes First Or Last?

Continuing on from my previous post when I left off writing about the Korban Tamid (see my previous post before reading this one to understand the background for this post), the word Tamid is used for this type of offering, as the word Tamid literally means always, and these two communal burnt offering were daily offerings with no brake from offering them on any day of the year.  They were also significant because they were the first and last offerings of the day, and no other offering was to be offered before or after these on any given day.  That is, except for one day on which the afternoon offering was not the last offering of the day - the 14th of Nissan, since afterwards, numerous Pascal offerings were offered for the Jews to be prepared in time to eat of their meat on the first night of Passover at the Seder.

Now, it is true that there is a Mishna (Zevachim 10:1) that tells us that whatever occurs more often than something else takes precedence, noting that the Tamid morning offering are offered before the Mussaf (additional communal holiday) offering(s); and accordingly, the Sabbath Mussaf offering which is offered once a week takes precedence to the New Moon Mussaf offering which was offered once a month (when the Sabbath and New Moon coincide), and so too, the New Moon Mussaf offering takes precedence to the Rosh Hashana Mussaf offering (which was on the New Moon of Tishrei).  Hence, it makes sense automatically that the Tamid afternoon offering should precede the Pascal offerings since after all, the Tamid is brought every day while the Pascal offering is brought once a year.  However, on the other hand, the Tamid afternoon offering is ALWAYS brought especially as the LAST offering of the day; and hence, one would think that perhaps, its usual time of being offered must ALWAYS be respected.

But perhaps, this is the point.  The usual time of the afternoon Tamid offering being brought is not possible on the 14th of Nissan - regardless of whether it is brought before the Pascal offering or afterwards.  You see, the Mishna in Pesachim (5:1) tells us that everyday, it was slaughtered at eight and a half hours of the day and offered at nine and a half hours of the day.  However, on Erev Pesach (14 Nissan), it is slaughtered at seven and half hours and offered at eight and a half hours; and if it falls out on Erev Shabbat (Friday), then it is slaughtered at six and a half hours and offered at seven an a half hours - to allow sufficient time for the Pascal offerings to be brought.  Hence, there would be no way for the Tamid offering to be brought at it usual time if it were to be offered after the Pascal offerings because it would be far later in the day than it is offered on every other day of the year.  Hence, the rule of what takes place for frequent comes first comes into place here, and hence, the afternoon Tamid is offered earlier than usual.  This is bearing in mind that the Pascal offerings were the ONLY holiday offerings of the year (aside from their accompanying Chagiga offerings) that were to be offered specifically in the afternoon in sharp contrast to the other holiday offerings when they are brought in the morning if at all possible.  Hence, the Tamid offering is ALWAYS brought before any given holiday offerings.

It is a little ironic here.  You see, if we dissect the word Tamid, which is also the name of the Mishnaic tractate that focuses on the morning Tamid offering, it can be read at Tam (conclusion or finish) of Yud-Dalet (14), which would make us think that perhaps it is a hint that when it comes to the 14th of Nissan, it should also be brought at the last offering of the day since it seems to hint that even the date of 14 Nissan should end off with this offering.  And in fact, this may be technically be the way that Hashem would Himself decide as how the Halacha (Jewish Law) should be if we were to take a close look in the Torah about when the afternoon Tamid offering is supposed to be brought, and in fact, we see an example in the Talmud (Bava Metzia) in which Hashem admitted "defeat" as to what the Halacha should be.  However, Hashem has given us the Torah and empowered the Torah scholars or Jewish court of the generation to decide matters of Jewish law; and hence, even if Hashem Himself were to tell us what the Halacha should be, we still have to listen to the rabbis who decide since this is what Hashem tells us in the Torah to do.

For that matter, the laws relating to the timing of the afternoon Tamid are mentioned specifically in Tractate Pesachim, and NOT in Tractate Tamid which basically discusses the timing of the morning Tamid.  As we know, Pesach is the holiday of Redemption, and as I mentioned in my previous post, the beginning of Passover corresponds to the first Redeption of the Exodus, while the end of Passover corresponds to our upcoming Final Redemption.  With this said, let's take a close look at the timing of the slaughter of the afternoon Tamid when offered on Erev Pesach when it falls out on Erev Shabbat - " it is slaughtered at six and a half hours".  Now, Kabbalistically, each millenium of the world's existance corresponds to the corresponding day of the week.  Hence, as we are presently in the sixth millenium, it corresponds to the sixth day of the week.  Hence, the first half of this millenium (5000-5500) correspond to the nightime hours of the sixth day, and the second half of this millenium (5500-6000) correspond to the daytime hours of the sixth day (Friday).  Now, halfway of this, beginning with the year 5751, which was 23 years ago, corresponds to the beginning of the afternoon of Friday.  And every 20 years and approximately 10 months correspond to a half hour.

Thus, according to this, we have already reached six and a half hours of the day - which is also the earliest day of the day that the Mincha prayer may be recited - the same timing of the day that the Tamid afternoon offering was slaughtered on 14 Nissan when if fell out ON A FRIDAY.  Thus, it is specifically in the tractate about the holiday of Redemption that the various timings of the AFTERNOON Tamid is mentioned.  For in fact, we have to ALWAYS be in a state of spiritual preparedness, with repentance and good deeds, BEFORE the Redemption comes, because once Moshiach arrives, it will be too late to make amends when the truth will be obvious to everyone in the exalted state that this world will be at when this happens.  According to this, we are technically living on borrowed time, and Hashem is giving us a final chance to do things right before the Galus (exile) show is over, and the only reality is not the way things are preceived like in movies which not only contain scenes that are forbidden to be watched according to the Torah which include forbidden temptations to be looked at as while as wasted time from learning Torah or doing Mitzvot, but also give a very distorted view of what life is about, which brainwashes far too many people; but rather, the reality is what we have to show for ourselves in following the mission that Hashem sent us to this world for, as everything else won't mean anything in the future except for what helps us spiritually afterwards.  And it is specifically to Friday - Erev Shabbat - that this is hinted at, for as our rabbis tell us, whoever prepares on Erev Shabbat, will have what to eat on Shabbat - not only in the sense that since we are forbidden to do many types of work on Shabbat, and hence, we have to prepare our food before Shabbat so as not to transgress the Shabbat accordingly, but this also refers to our spiritual preparation in this world - and especially before Moshiach comes - in order that we will have our eternal reward prepared for us in the next world.

And so in life, we have to make our ALWAYS - what we need to do everyday - as our FIRST things to do in the day, our priority, rather than waiting to do them LAST in the day, before other things come up, or forget about doing the ALWAYS chores.  For as we see when it comes to learning Torah, as much as it is important to learn Torah as much time as possible every day, especially if we are youngsters in Yeshiva or retired from work; the emphasis of the ALWAYS when it comes to Torah is on learning Torah EVERY day, even if on some days, we can't learn that much for whatever reason, but we have to learn something EVERY DAY in order that the Torah is considered the aspect of Tamid - ALWAYS - in our lives.  In that way, every day in our lives will be fused with spiritually, with serving Hashem, the lesson that the Korban Tamid teaches us, being brought twice daily without exception of any day in the year; and hence, the afternoon Tamid had to especially be brought BEFORE the Pascal offering in order not to take any chances of missing out on offering it, especially since if it wouldn't have been brought before the Pascal offerings, it wouldn't have been brought in its usual time, and hence, they could be completely forgotten about, or be without time left in the day to offer them - even though technically, it was supposed to be offered especially as the last offering of the day according to the strict interpretation of the Torah.  Hence, it was better if it was offered even earlier than usual, but that it should be offered without taking chances of missing out on it, despite the fact that the reason for not doing so otherwise would have been because of a most important Mitzva of offering the Pascal sacrifice.

And as we see in the Orach Chaim section of the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) which begins with the laws of the morning in preparing for prayer and ends off with the laws of Purim, particularly in the notes of the Rama (Rabbi Moshe Isserles), the Ashkenazic decisions accompanying the Shulchan Aruch, in the beginning of the Shulchan Aruch, he quotes the verse Shiviti Hashem L'Negdi TAMID  "I have set Hashem in front of me ALWAYS" (Psalms 16:8), and ends the Shulchan Aruch on the final chapter 697 which is about the observance of Purim Katan and Shushan Purim Katan on the 14th and 15th of Adar I (in a leap year that has two months of Adar) on which the Rama notes that we are accustomed to add a little extra to our meal in the spirit of feasting and happiness on 14th of the first Adar as we do in a big way on Purim (which is observed on the 14th of the second Adar), ending off with the verse V'Tov Lev Mishte TAMID  "A good heart feasts ALWAYS".

Anyways, we see here that the concept of Tamid is associated ESPECIALLY WITH THE NUMBER 14, as we see in Tractate Pesachim, as well as the last two letters of the word Tamid spelling the Hebrew number 14.  And counting the Hebrew months from Nissan, the month of our first Redemption, the month of Adar, or in a leap year, Adar I, is the 12th month.  Now, if we count every half month, it winds up that the 14th (and 15th) of Adar, or Adar I, marks like the beginning of the 24th period of a half month.  Accordingly, the year 5751 marked the beginning of the 24th period of 250 years since the creation of the world, and midday of Friday.  This would especially work out if the months of Cheshvan and Kislev each have 30 days, and hence, there already would be a full moon, marking half way in the month, on the night of the 14th of Adar.  Hence, the 15th of Adar (I), which is Shushan Purim (Katan), corresponds to the corresponding time in the year 5771, as well as the six and a half hours point of Friday as per the Korban Tamid on Erev Shabbat - Erev Pesach.  And accordingly, though in fact, the TAMID in the LAST chapter of the Shulchan Aruch significantly corresponds to the afternoon TAMID which was offered as the LAST sacrifice of the day, it is hinted here in terms of the 14th-15th of Adar (I), being that some celebrate Purim particularly on the 15th of Adar (in Jerusalem and in the city of the Biblical Shushan in Iran), and hence, we see the corresponding time hinted here at the six and a half hours of Erev Shabbat - Erev Pesach, even though it was not offered on this particular day as the last offering of the day.

O.K., in the Shulchan Aruch, at least according to the Rama, TAMID - ALWAYS comes first AND last, but particularly in the context of the Shulchan Aruch.  But in terms of Avodat Hashem (serving Hashem), we have to place our spirituality as our priority every day, as the first thing of the day, including morning prayers before tending to our eating needs (however, if one needs the restroom, this comes before prayers because one is forbidden to hold oneself back from using the restroom is one has the slightest need to do so), but even when we can't physically learn Torah or be out doing Mitzvot all day per se because we have to work (which by the way is also a Mitzva in terms of supporting our families as we promise our wives in the Ketuba - marriage contract), we still have to bear Hashem in mind all day long in terms of our thoughts, speech, and action - "I have set Hashem in front of me ALWAYS".

5 Tevet. 5774

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