In the beginning of this week’s Parsha, G-d commands the Jewish people to take pure oil from crushed olives. The purpose of this was to light the menorah in the Mishkan - and later the Bais Hamikdash. The Torah says the lighting is “Tamid” - to raise a fire forever. Now, how could this lighting be forever? The menorah was not lit just one time by Aharon, then stayed lit for more than four hundred years until the destruction of the Mishkan and then lit again when the Bais Hamikdash was built and remained shining for more than 400 years until its destruction by the Babylonians. The menorah was lit in the Mishkan and Bais Hamikdash every day late in the afternoon and only had to burn until sunrise the next day. It was a daily service. So, what does the Torah mean that it burned “always”?
Rashi makes note that the word “Tamid” is not always “always”. Sometimes, it means constantly. Regarding the menorah, the Torah is not commanding that it always remain lit. Rather, the Torah is teaching us that it must be constantly lit – every day.
We perform mitzvos - so to speak - light the menorah to brighten the world. We are human beings. It is difficult for most of us to be always involved in performing mitzvos. We have responsibilities to our families, our jobs and ourselves. However, it is essential that we are engaged with mitzvos on a constant basis.
We have people who come to minyan on a daily basis – the morning, afternoon or both. That is Rashi’s definition of “Tamid”. They are not here 24 hours. However their presence is constant. They are lighting a fire for the Jewish people. We don’t always daven, but we daven three times every day. We don’t always eat, but whenever we do eat, we say brachos. We don’t always talk, but when we do, we are careful with our speech. We don’t learn 24 hours a day, but we must have a constant schedule for Torah study.
This idea of constant also applies to other Mitzvos. When we give tzedaka, the Rambam writes that it is better to give one dollar one hundred times rather than $100 once. That way, one becomes accustomed to giving tzedaka. It becomes a constant in one’s lifestyle.
Our service to G-d must be “Tamid” - constant.