The Torah uses a series of almost poetic metaphors to describe
the daily Tamid offering:
“Be careful to offer My
offering — My bread-offering, My fire-offering, My appeasing
fragrance — in its proper time.” (Num. 28:2)
What is the significance of these four descriptions: offering,
bread, fire, and fragrance?
These descriptions correspond to four basic characteristics that are common to all Temple
offerings. They are particularly relevant to the Tamid, however, as this
communal offering aspires to integrate holiness into the daily life of the nation.
“My offering.” In Hebrew, korbani.
The word korban comes from the root karov,
meaning “close” or “near.” Temple offerings are an expression of the soul’s
underlying yearnings to draw close to God in all aspects of life.
The Tamid offering, representing the entire people, expresses these yearnings in
the soul of the nation.
“My bread.” In Hebrew, lachmi. The Temple service reveals the inner harmony
between the nation’s material and spiritual realms.
Why does the Torah use the metaphor of bread? Bread has the
remarkable ability to bind the soul to the body and its physical
powers. The Hebrew root lechem also means “to solder together.” The
offerings are a kind of Divine “bread,” cultivating the connection
between the nation’s natural and holy qualities.
“My fire-offering.” In Hebrew, ishi. Fire is a source of tremendous energy,
capable of igniting and activating physical matter.
Offerings reflect the
fundamental truth that the Divine aspect of the nation’s soul is not
limited to the intellectual and
emotive spheres, but is also expressed in the physical realm.
“My appeasing fragrance.”
In Hebrew, rei'ach nichochi. The Temple offerings foster a sense of
pleasantness and sweetness, both for the individual and the nation as a whole.
This sweetness is a result of Israel’s special connection
to God, and the nation’s corresponding lifestyle of sanctity and meaning.
(Adapted from Olat Re’iyah vol. I, pp. 128-129)
Illustration image: James Tissot, ‘Reconstruction of the Temple of Herod Southeast Corner’ (between 1886 and 1894)