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Among the Jews who left Egypt, there were many artisans with special skills. When it was time to build the Tabernacle, they all came forward. The goldsmiths and silversmiths, the weavers and spinners, the builders and carpenters, the blacksmiths and chemists all volunteered their services.
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Home » Vayikra Parshah

Vayikra: A Sincere Gift

Submitted by on January 12, 2006 – 3:57 amNo Comment | 2,817 views

The Thought Counts

A man once complained to me that his wife never appreciates the gifts he brings home for her. I asked him how much money he spends on himself and how much he spends for his wife. He acknowledged that he spends far more on himself then he does for her. “But,” he defended himself, “doesn’t the thought count for more than the actual gift?”

The Right to Buy

A woman complained to me that her husband doesn’t appreciate the gifts she buys for him. I asked her why she buys the gifts if her husband doesn’t seem to want them? Her response, “Isn’t it my right as a wife to purchase the occasional gift for him?”gift wrap - innerstream

Sacrifice

Upon completion of the tabernacle G-d instructed Moses on the protocol of the sacrificial rite. This was not the first example of sacrificial worship. Cain and Abel had offered sacrifices nearly two thousands years earlier and in preparing for sacrificial worship our ancestors looked to the models of Cain and Abel for inspiration.(1)

Of the two, Cain made the first offering. His motivation was pure and carried no ulterior motive, but the offer itself was flawed. Cain was an agriculturist and he offered of his harvest to G-d. But he offered only the inferior portion of his crop and kept the superior portion for himself.

Abel, a Shepherd, made a superb offering by selecting from his finest flock for G-d, but his motivation was flawed. On his own he would not have offered the sacrifice but having witnessed his brother’s offering he had no choice but to follow suit. Anything else would have been unseemly. Thus, his intent was not to glorify G-d, but himself.

Rejecting Both Models

In introducing the sacrificial rite the Torah rejects both models. “When a man from among you offers a sacrifice to G-d, it shall be brought from cattle, the herd or the flock.” (2)

First the Torah stipulates that a sacrifice must be offered “to G-d.” This means that the offering must glorify G-d, not its bearer. (3) Second the Torah insists that the offering must come from our finest possessions, “cattle, herd or flock,” An offering must come from the finest flock, not the inferior crop.

The Torah thus demands a pure motive and a stellar offering. We may look to Cain and Able for inspiration but only if we combine their respective lessons and form a positive picture.

When Thoughts Count

When we have offered our best and have come up short we might be consoled by the idea that the thought counts. But this rationale should never be employed to justify the deliberate offering of an inferior gift. Cain did that and G-d wasn’t satisfied. The husband mentioned above did that too and his wife was also not satisfied.

The Gift’s Purpose

Offering a gift is an expression of goodwill but only if it is done with the intention of gratifying the recipient. A gift that is given to gratify the giver instead of the recipient, so that the giver might be viewed, by himself or others, as a good spouse, cannot generate the recipient’s goodwill. Able did that and G-d wasn’t satisfied. The woman mentioned above did that too and her husband was also not satisfied. (4)

Footnotes

  1. Geneses ch. 4, 3
  2. Leviticus 1, 2
  3. The words “to G-d” are ordinarily understood as a stipulation that the sacrificial rite be hence devoted only to G-d, not to Idol Worship.
  4. This sesay is based on the commentary of Kli Yakar (R. Ephraim Shlomo of Luntshitz, 1550-1619)

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