We open the section of the Korbanot with the passage of the Akeidah, describing the sacrifice of Yitzchak. The readiness of Avraham Avinu to bring his only son as an offering is the ultimate sacrifice, and this is the foundation for all the commandments involving korbanot. Further, its recital awakens our hearts to the love of Hashem and to serve Him in total devotion. Moreover, in its recital we mention the merit of our forefathers – after the Akeidah passage, we request that Hashem, in the merit of the sacrifice of Yitzchak, have mercy on us and redeem us.
After that, it is customary to recite words of inspiration in preparation for prayer and for the service of Hashem, including the first section of “Shema Yisrael.” According to the Yerushalmi, we end with the berachah, “Blessed are You Hashem, Who sanctifies Your Name among the multitudes,” and that is true for Nusach Ashkenaz. However, since this berachah is not mentioned in the Talmud Bavli, those praying in Nusach Sephard recite the blessing, “Blessed is the Sanctifier of His Name among the multitudes,” without saying Hashem’s Name.
Next, we arrive at the Korbanot passages themselves. According to the Ashkenazic minhag, we first recite the paragraph of the Kiyor (laver) and the passage regarding the Terumat HaDeshen (the removal of ashes), for the Kohanim would start the work in the Temple with them every morning. Furthermore, just as the Kohanim would become purified in preparation for their work by washing their hands and feet in the Kiyor, our recital of the passage of the Kiyor in the Shacharit service purifies us in preparation for prayer.
Afterwards, according to all minhagim, the Tamid passage is recited, and we request that its recital be considered as if we are bringing a Tamid offering. Subsequently, we recite the verses of the Ketoret and we say rabbinic explanations regarding its mixture.
We then add verses of praise and recite the paragraph, “Abayei listed the order of the altar service,” which is a small summary of the work in the Temple. We then recite the poem, “Ana B’Cho’ach,” which also alludes to the sacrificing of korbanot, and we conclude with a prayer requesting that our words be considered as if we actually offered the Korban Tamid.
The Korbanot passages must be recited after amud hashachar, for that is the time to bring the offerings (Shulchan Aruch 1:6; 47:13). There are those who say that it is good to recite them while standing, following the example of the Kohanim who would stand while the sacrificial offerings were being brought (based on the Magen Avraham and see Mishnah Berurah 48:1). Nevertheless, according to most poskim, one need not stand, and that is the Sephardic minhag (Kaf HaChaim 1:33).
After that, we say the chapter, “Eizehu mekoman shel zevachim” (“What is the location of the offerings?”) (Mishnah, Zevachim chapter 5). There are two reasons for its recital. First, it explains the place of the sacrifice and the sprinkling of the blood of the korbanot, and its recital corresponds to the offering of those korbanot. Second, the Chachamim wanted every Jew to learn Scripture, Mishnah, and Talmud every day (see Kiddushin 30a). When one recites the Tamid passage, he fulfills the obligation to learn Scripture. When he recites this chapter, he fulfills the obligation of learning Mishnah. Subsequently, he recites a beraita attributed to Rabbi Yishmael concerning the thirteen methods through which the Torah is elucidated, thereby fulfilling the obligation to learn Talmud.
Although the Shulchan Aruch writes (Orach Chaim 1:5) that it is best to recite all the Korbanot passages, namely, the passage of the Olah (burnt offering), Minchah (meal offering), Shelamim (peace offering), Chatat (sin offering), and Asham (guilt offering) (from the Torah portions of Vayikra and Tzav), in actuality, it was not customary to recite them, and they were not even printed in siddurim. There are those who say that by reciting the chapter, “Eizehu mekoman,” within which all the korbanot are mentioned, one fulfills to a certain extent the learning of those matters (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 1:9; Eshel Avraham). It is proper that every year when we arrive at the Torah-reading portions of Vayikra and Tzav we learn them well, for one who learns them is considered as if he sacrificed the offerings (Menachot 110a).