The Torah tells an amazing tale. The tale of creation, of the very first humans, of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, of the Exodus, of the exile in the desert, and even of Moshe Rabbenu’s death. These very real incidents are as fascinating as any fiction. And there’s also commandments. Mitzvot. Guidelines for living morally, and also prohibitions. But some of them don’t actually seem all that relevant to 21st century life, not at first glance. The red heifer? Daily sacrifices? How can we incorporate these things into our life when there’s no Temple?!
I could argue that the very greatest moral guidelines come from these seemingly antiquated commandments.
Let’s take, as an example, the fact that one is obligated to make two sacrifices a day; one in the morning, and one in the evening. Okay, so we can’t make actual sacrifices nowadays. But there’s actually a parallel commandment; study Torah twice a day, in the daytime and in the nighttime. Coincidence? Possibly, but Torah study is our greatest mitzvah, and in lieu of the Temple sacrifices, we can definitely devote more time to it.
Another lesson from this commandment; sacrificing twice a day, every day, develops a routine. It becomes regular, and, gradually… Normal. After a few days, weeks, or months, it’s not nearly so exciting. But the Israelites had to persevere with the sacrifices, come rain or shine. And this is incredibly relevant; even once going to Shul, or keeping Kosher, stops being novel and exciting, we have to carry on with it! Sometimes serving G-d and keeping Mitzot is hard. That’s understandable. But if we stop, how can we expect Moshiach to come…?