Every morning I will put to silence
all the wicked in the land;
I will cut off every evildoer
from the city of the LORD. — Psalm 101:8
Judaism’s Oral Tradition, which in Judaism is believed to have been given to Moses at the same time as the written law and which includes exposition and clarification of the written law that has been passed down from generation to generation, teaches the following story:
A group of Jewish sages was having a discussion regarding the most important verse in the Bible. One sage suggested, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). Indeed, belief in one God is a cornerstone of the Jewish faith. But another sage proposed, “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18) because belief in God is not enough. One must also act appropriately toward man.
Finally, another sage made a third suggestion. He said, “Offer one in the morning and the other at twilight” (Exodus 29:39), in reference to the daily sacrifice that was offered in the Temple. What a strange choice! Even more strange is that everyone else agreed with him!
As you may have guessed, there is a deeper meaning to the verse about sacrifices. It’s about consistency – of doing the same thing day in and day out. One sacrifice is offered in the morning and another in the afternoon – every single day. This sacrifice, called “the daily sacrifice,” is symbolic of consistent righteous behavior.
It’s one thing to have exemplary faith in a particular situation or to perform an extraordinary act of kindness at one time. But righteousness is not determined by what we do once in a while. Righteousness is determined by all the little things that we do day in and day out – whether we feel like it or not – rain or shine, every single day of our lives.
The last sage was suggesting that what we do is not as important as how consistent we are at doing it. Real spirituality is constant and consistent. Otherwise it’s as fleeting as a rainbow, even if beautiful while still in the sky.
In Psalm 101, King David asserts that “Every morning I will put to silence all the wicked in the land.” The sages explain that David was emphasizing that he did his job every single day with the same enthusiasm as on the first day. He didn’t take a break on Tuesday because he did a good job on Monday, and he didn’t skip Thursday because he had a late night on Wednesday. David was constant and consistent in his service to the Lord and that made him righteous.
Like David, we need to wake up every morning, jump out of bed ready and willing to be our best. Even if we are tired or uninspired. Especially if we are tired or uninspired! If we are consistent and give 100 percent every day of our lives, then God will be there for us, too.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President