The fifth perek of Masechet Zevachim may be familiar to most people as “korbanot” which we recite in our daily tefillot every morning. This perek is known as the perek of “Eizehu Mekoman” due to its opening words which describe the places where the different types of korbanot were offered.
The Shulchan Aruch (50) offers the reason as to why this perek is recited every morning. Every day a person must endeavour to learn some Mikrah, Mishnah and Gemara.This perek of Korbanot allows a person to fulfill his requirement of learning mishnayot for that day.
The Mishnah Berurah explains deeper that in fact there is an obligation for one to bring sacrifices and come close to Hakodosh Baruch Hu. Unfortunately, today we are unable to bring offerings in the form of Korbanot – therefore those who study and toil in the Halachos of the Korbanot every day are seen as if they have offered them and come close to Hashem.
Another reason brought by the Mishnah Berurah that this perek is singled out to be learned every day, is because this perek is in a sense a “Mishnah Berurah” (a ‘clear’ Mishnah). This is because there are no machlokes in the laws presented in this perek which means it was received directly from Moshe at Sinai.
The Shulchan Aruch’s reasoning as to the addition of these mishnayot into the daily tefillah has a practical consequence to us today. The Mishnah Berurah mentions that one should be very careful to understand the meaning of the words of these mishnayot. This is because their placement in the tefillah is not to function as prayer, but rather as limmud Torah. If it was to be seen as a prayer, then one need not understand the meaning of the words one is saying, as Hashem knows a persons kavanot and intentions when one is praying. However, since it is seen as limmud Torah –if one does not understand what one is saying it is not considered a proper limmud.
R’ Shimon Schwab adds a very interesting element to this idea. He mentions that learning the same chapter of Mishnayot every day, even if one knows it by heart, is the ultimate display of Talmud Torah Lishma (for its own sake). He mentions that the true meaning of one who is an Oved Elokim (servant of Hashem) is explained in the Gemara in Chagigah (9b):
There is no comparison between a person who reviews his learning a hundred times and one who reviews it a hundred and one times.
The latter is called an Oved Elokim; he serves Hashem through his in depth learning and chazarah. In the past, the Torah sheba’al peh was learned literally – ba’al peh (by-heart). Learning something a hundred times was considered normal, in order to memorise it. However, to review and learn something that extra time (even once) displays that one is learning purely for its own sake, and because Hashem wants him to learn.
R’ Schwab says that the repeated daily learning of Eizehu Mekoman is an example of learning something a hundred and one times. Even though we may know the meaning of these mishnayot and have reviewed and said them many times, their constant repetition is Talmud Torah Lishma, and is therefore called Avodat Elokim. This is another reason why these mishnayot are placed in the tefillah – in order that the Avodat Elokim of Talmud Torah Lishma partners with the Avodah Shebelev (Tefillah), the service of the heart
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