Parshat Pinchas: The Essential Principle of the Torah

What is the essential principle of the Torah? Well known is Rabbi Akiva's view that it loving the other. Less well know is the view of Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi that it stems from the verse from our Parsha "One sheep you shall offer in the morning, the second sheep you shall offer in the afternoon". On the surface, the sheep may seem a bit less inspiring than the love. However, Rabbi Shimon's point is not about sheep or even about offerings in the Temple, rather he is teaching about life itself. The verse he quotes details the daily Tamid offering. Tamid means constant or always, and from the word Tamid, comes the word HatMada, meaning persistence. Everyone wants love, but so many fail to achieve it, or for that matter the other values that make life meaningful and worthwhile, because of a lack of Tamid and HatMada.