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A Worthwhile Sacrifice

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The book of Vayikra – Leviticus – extensively discusses all the various sacrifices and their laws. Many commentators discuss the significance of the sacrifices and the reason and meaning behind them.

The very first sacrifice in history was offered to G-D by Cain, the eldest son of Adam and Eve, way back in the beginning of time. He brought his offering from his low grade vegetation, some flax or the like. His brother, Hevel, liked the idea, and, following his brother’s lead, offered G-D from his choice sheep. The verse relates that G-D accepted Hevel’s offering but not Cain’s. This doesn’t seem too fair. Cain had the idea to bring an offering to G-D in the first place, and just because it wasn’t valuable, G-D didn’t want it? Value doesn’t make a difference to Hashem, who owns everything Divrei Torah,in the world, so why did He care how much it worth?

It was actually this very thought process that Cain had. Cain did have good intentions, however, he erred in that he figured, why give G-D my valuables? It doesn’t make a difference to Him how much its worth! But Hevel countered, well, if that’s true, then why give G-D anything? Since everything in the world belongs to Him, what’s the difference if I give him something or not? Giving Hashem a sheep or some plants will surely not cause an increase in the heavenly bank account. Obviously, G-D wishes that we offer something which is valuable to us, this way we feel as if we are giving Him something. Although its true that value has no meaning in the eyes of He Who Owns The Entire World, but we must offer what to us is of value, so that we will feel that we are donating a substantial offering to Him.

This is one of the reasons for the mitzvah of bringing sacrifices to G-D. G-D doesn’t eat, and he doesn’t smell the burnt meat the way we understand it. He surely has no use for the sacrifice. Other religions have incorporated this practice of sacrificing to their “gods.” They offer food and donations for their gods to enjoy in order to appease them. There cannot be anything more ridiculous.

Our sacrifices are taken from our possessions, from our hard earned assets, to give to G-D, so that we should feel that we are giving up for Him. When G-D sees that we are willing to sacrifice that which has value for Him, He is pleased and appeased and He “smells” the “satisfying aroma.”

Although we do not have the opportunity to offer sacrifice to G-D now that there is no Bais Hamikdash, we can still accomplish the same purpose and goal. By giving up from our time, energy, abilities, and resources for G-D, we are offering valuable sacrifices to G-D. Any time that we sacrifice from ourselves, this is a pleasing offering to Hashem, our own sacrifice, just like the sacrifices brought in the holy temple.

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Author: Rabbi Bauman