If you were a fly on the wall of the Tabernacle or Temple, you would notice a curious aspect of the sacrificial rite—the daily offerings. Each morning, at dawn’s earliest light, a sheep offering was made; every day, the same kind of sheep with the same amount of libation, at the same exact time. Every evening, no matter how busy the altar was during the day, space was cleared for another sheep. Once again, it was the same kind of sheep, the same kind of libation, at approximately the same time of day.

The first and last offering of the day was a single sheep. Not an expensive ox, just a small sheep. There were no showy loaves of bread, just a measure of flour and some wine for the libation. If you break down the cost of the daily offering and divide it among the entire nation, you will see that the cost to the individual Jew was next to nothing. What is the value of an offering that costs almost nothing? The answer is that an offering need not cost much, but it must come from the heart.

Although the Temple was destroyed and we no longer offer animal sacrifices, the laws of the Torah are eternal. Where we can’t apply them literally, we are expected to apply them figuratively.

The figurative daily offering in our own lives need not take a lot of time or cost a lot of money. The key is that it be done daily and that it be done with heart.

Let’s look at the two prayers we recite in bed—the first upon waking, the second just before going to sleep. When we awake in the morning, we sit up in bed and recite, “Thank you G‑d, living and eternal King, for returning my soul to me, great is your faithfulness.”1 Just before falling asleep, we say, “In your hands, I entrust my soul, redeem me G‑d, the true L‑rd.”2

Succinct, but to the point. These twin prayers don’t take long to recite. They cost no money at all, but they capture the entire heart. The whole of our relationship with G‑d—our trust, gratitude, dependence and love—is captured in these short lines. They don’t need to take up our entire day, and they don’t need to cost our entire wallet.

You don’t need to do something showy to connect with G‑d. The daily offering can be achieved with something short and to the point.

A Constant

I don’t mean to suggest that two prayers are all we need for the entire day. Just as the daily offerings were not the only offerings of the day, our daily offerings are not the only prayer or good deed of our day. Throughout the day there will be more prayers and more good deeds. But if the day begins and ends with these sincere prayers, the whole day will be one long offering.

This is why the Torah refers to the daily offerings as the constant offerings. They only come twice a day; there is nothing constant about them. Yet, if they bracket our day with complete sincerity, they will be noticeable in everything we do throughout the day.

As we pray, as we work, as we eat, as we exercise, it will be noticeable that it is a Jew—who loves G‑d, who feels dependent on G‑d, who trusts G‑d—who is eating, playing, working, exercising or sleeping. As we pray or study, as we visit friends or help a child cross the street, as we carry a bag for an old lady or give a neighbor a helping hand, the sincerity of our daily offering will be with us. It will be noticeable all the time, and with that, it will be constant.


Our sages taught that the daily offering atoned for past sins.3 This tells us that even if we grew up without these prayers, it is never too late to introduce them into our lives. If we begin to recite them today, and if we recite them with sincerity, we will find that we are changed because of it. So evident will be the effect of these prayers on our daily lives, and even on our character, that it will seem as if we had been saying them all our lives.


Why are these prayers special? Of all prayers, why do these substitute for the daily offerings in the Temple?

Because they teach us gratitude. They remind us that we are constantly dependent on G‑d, and that G‑d always comes through for us. Each morning, as we wake up, we recognize that waking is a miracle.

A comedian once said that he woke up in the morning to unwrap two incredible gifts; they were his eyes.

This is no joke. It is true. Waking up is a gift that should thrill us the moment we contemplate the alternative. When we take a moment to say thank you for the simple fact that we awoke, we set a tone for the rest of the day. So long as we pause for a moment to reflect on the blessings in our lives, so long as we take the time to let the positive feelings of gratitude flow through us, and so long as we dwell on these feelings until they sink in (and this does not take a lot of time), they will permeate our entire day.

For the rest of our day, we will take note of the good things and be thankful for them. We will look at the negatives in context of all the positives and put them in perspective. This will have such a positive effect on our disposition, energy and spirit that we will be much more effective, efficient and pleasant to be with. Everyone will notice the impact because it will be constant.

Then, when we go to bed, we say thank you. We take a moment to acknowledge the source of our blessings. We acknowledge that the L‑rd is our G‑d, to whom we entrust our soul. Money is not our G‑d, work is not our G‑d, play is not our G‑d, social acceptance is not our G‑d, the latest iPhone is not our G‑d. Only G‑d is our G‑d. And to Him alone do we entrust our soul.

With this we are ready to go to sleep. Tomorrow will be another day. And when we wake, G‑d will be at our side to help us get through yet another amazing day of life. A short prayer, a small meditation, but an entire heart, and every day. Short and to the point. Succinct and constant.

A small step in our day, a giant leap in life.4