“He shall bring it to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, voluntarily, before Hashem.” (Vayikra 1:3)
Our parashah opens the book of Vayikra, the sefer of the Torah referred to as Torat Kohanim — The Law Book of the Kohanim. In it we learn of the duties of the priestly families and the people’s obligations to them. We also are taught the laws of purity and impurity of the community, holy places and individuals. The service in the Mikdash is of primary importance and is discussed in detail throughout sefer Vayikra.
The first subject is the service in the Mikdash involving all the different types of individual and communal offerings brought by the priestly families on behalf of the people. At the outset the Torah commands that these offerings must be brought lirtzono — voluntarily.
Lined up brigade by brigade, the soldiers marched in formation before the king. After the procession had passed by the viewing stand, the king descended from the platform and began an up-close inspection of the troops standing sternly at attention. At the conclusion of his detailed review, the monarch designated one soldier as his choice to join him on the podium.
This man was not an officer nor any type of expert; he was merely a simple foot soldier. The king’s selection baffled officers and troops alike. What made the king select this man over all others who seemed more worthy of special recognition?
“I want you all to know,” the monarch said, “that as I walked up and down the ranks, I saw some soldiers who seemed annoyed at the length of time they were forced to stand at attention in the hot sun. Others looked fatigued and still others appeared lazy. However, when I observed this excellent soldier, I saw in his expression pride and happiness at the opportunity to serve his king. He alone seemed to view this day as a glorious opportunity rather than a burdensome chore.”
In the parashah detailing the requirements for korbanot — offerings — the Torah says sacrifices must be brought “willingly.” Rashi adds that if one should bring an offering involuntarily, they pressure him until he says “Rotzeh ani — I want to (bring this sacrifice).”
Three times a day we stand before our King in prayer. These three tefillot are required; however, we are expected to remember that they were set by our Sages to substitute for sacrifices brought in the Bet Hamikdash. To gain entry before the Heavenly Throne, our prayers must be recited happily. They must be viewed as an opportunity to address a Monarch. Every effort should be made to treat tefillah as a special merit granted to us to praise our Creator and express our needs. Don’t just recite — happily volunteer to fulfill your duty!