"A constant fire shall burn upon the altar; it shall never go out"—Leviticus 6:6.

There is a tradition that interprets this verse as a specific warning against the fire on the altar going out even under two conditions where one might reason that it should: during the Sabbath and in a state of ritual impurity. On the Sabbath one might reason that inasmuch as it is a day of rest, the flames of the altar should rest as well. In a situation of impurity, one might assume that first there must be a purification of whatever is impure and then to relight the flame afterward.

On a deeper level, this verse also speaks to the individual regarding the "flame" – that is the passion – that burns on his internal "altar" in his heart. We must always be enthusiastic in the service of our Maker. Apathy, depression, sloth and other "cold" emotional states are antithetical to being of true service to G‑d.

On a deeper level, this verse also speaks to the "flame" – that is the person's passionHowever, one could still try to reason that under certain conditions, it would be unnecessary or even inappropriate to feel excitement and passion. Aren't there cases where a different emotional disposition is called for? In answer to this argument we are told that the flame must be kept burning always—even on the Sabbath, even in a case of ritual impurity.

The Sabbath is more than a day of rest. It is a day when we disengage ourselves from worldly affairs and live life on a more spiritual plane. Ritual impurity represents the very opposite state, being immersed in the material to the point of becoming disconnected from spirituality.

When one is in a Sabbath-like state, standing above the fray of mundane, day-to-day concerns, he may feel that he is already in a good place. He no longer needs to feel the passion that he did while working his way to where he is now. Indeed, he'd like to relax at this point and bask in the serenity in which he has finally found himself.

The alcoholic in recovery may find that after much honest and hard work, he has finally found a bit of peace. Of course, he knows that it took passion to get where he is. But now that he's finally made it, he doesn't see the great need to be as excited as he was when he was a giddy newcomer riding the pink cloud of early sobriety. He's an old timer now. He'll stick to his program, but he'll do it in a more calm and cool manner.

Then there is the opposite situation—impurity. One has become enmeshed in petty and selfish things and feels disconnected from his Source. In this case, it wouldn't seem right to be excited. After all, in a situation like that, what is there to be excited about? Sometimes the alcoholic has allowed life's problems to overwhelm him and finds himself in a state of depression, anxiety or isolation. Maybe he has even had a slip or is emotionally drunk without actually taking a drink. It's difficult to be excited when you're down in the dumps. In this sort of case, he might argue, "Let me get out of my slump first and then I'll have something to be charged up about."

Nevertheless, we are told that the fire on the altar must be kept burning in both of these cases—Sabbath and impurity. There is no situation too lofty and no situation too bleak that it precludes the constant need for exuberance, joy and warmth.