Insights into Leviticus
Rabbi Yosef Edelstein
Rosh Chodesh Nisan, 5758 - March 28,
Don't you hate it when you do a good deed, and then someone else comes along and outdoes
You give a 100-dollar check to a worthy charity, for example, and
feel (deservedly) proud of your generosity...until you hear about the five-digit
contribution that wins your next-door neighbor a seat on the dais at their big dinner!
Suddenly, your own offering--which gets you nothing but a form letter, and more
solicitations--seems pretty meager by comparison.
That's how human beings often think. It's important to
remember, though, that Hashem doesn't make such comparisons.We may worry about
"keeping up with the Joneses" even in our spiritual lives, in the Torah we study
and the mitzvos we do, but G-d just doesn't look at it that way. And this week's
parsha proves it.
The Torah outlines some basic laws of the korban olah, a burnt
offering in the Holy Temple brought by a person who had committed certain transgressions,
or who simply wished to get closer to G-d. What you chose to bring depended on your
budget: the offering could be from cattle, sheep, goats, fowl or--for those in the very
lowest tax bracket--ground wheat (meal-
offering). However, despite the difference in their respective costs, the Torah
refers to each one of them as, "a satisfying aroma to Hashem." The Mishna, cited
by Rashi, explains why the Torah repeats this phrase: "it teaches you that whether a
person gives a lot, or gives a little does not matter, provided
that he directs his heart to Heaven."
In other words, it's the thought that counts. Was the
intention of the act for the sake of Heaven--to become a better person, a more committed
If so, then it brings delight to the Almighty: "a
satisfying aroma to Hashem."
Regardless of cost or amount. For there's no such
thing as a "small" good deed or a meager offering, provided your heart was
directed to Heaven. The meal-offering is as precious in Hashem's eyes as the
choicest of cattle.
Now, this doesn't mean that we should knowingly skimp, or attempt
less than we are capable of. Quantity counts for something: after all, why not try
to bring a hefty bull for your korban olah, rather than a pan of flour?! Why not try
to do more good deeds, study more Torah? We should strive to be "all
that we can be," to quote some half-forgotten commercial jingle.
The operative word is, "can." The rule
is: do whatever you can. That's all Hashem expects. No more, and no less.
When we internalize this lesson of the korban olah, we can stop
looking at other people's good deeds and comparing. Directing our hearts to Heaven,
we can forget about the Joneses (or the Epsteins) and their mitzvos and get on with doing
Insights Into Genesis
Insights Into Exodus
Edelstein, Savannah Kollel. Phone: 355-0157; fax: 354-9923; e-mail address: Yosef18@aol.com
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