According to the World Health Organization, burnout is a syndrome resulting from workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It’s characterized by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job, and reduced professional efficacy (World Health Organization, 2019).
Burnout is widespread across the globe. According to a Forbes article from 2022, a study by Asana looked at over 10,000 knowledge workers across seven countries, and found that approximately 70% of people experienced burnout during the previous year. Every year, the percentage number of people who suffer burnout is both mindboggling and staggering.
In this week’s Parshah, Parshas Tzav, we are given a fundamental message: to make sure not to “burnout.” The Torah says (6:6) – אש תמיד תוקד על המזבח לא תכבה – “A perpetual fire shall be kept burning on the Altar; it should not be extinguished.” Of course, the Torah is speaking of the fire atop the Mizbeach, saying that it should not be burned out. However, homiletically speaking, the Torah is perhaps talking to each one of us, namely, a commandment telling US not do burnout.
But how? What’s the secret? How can we avoid a spiritual burnout? How can we stay constantly “on fire” in our connection with Hashem?
The answer is: The Korban Tamid!
If you ask anyone in the business world, they will tell you that time management is one of the key factors to avoiding burnout. When someone plans, schedules, and strategizes properly, they are much more likely to work effectively and be productive.
Incredibly, right before the Torah mentions the command for the fire not to “burnout,” we are told about the daily offering of the Korban Tamid. Hashem, in His infinite wisdom, commanded us to bring a Korban Tamid – a daily offering – once in the morning and once in the evening. This daily sacrificial process can be seen as two bookends of one long day of connecting with Hashem which can ultimately serve as a mechanism for us to establish time management in our lives.
Every day needs to have some sort of fixed prayer and learning. When we do this, it allows the rest of the day – whether we are at work, taking care of the children, or whatever – to flow at a higher level of functionality and manageability.
Let us strive to always stay “on fire” and not burnout. Let’s do this by having proper time management and infusing our day with fixed times of prayer and the study of Torah.
Have a holy Shabbos!