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Parsha Vayikra

03/14/2019 09:27:00 PM


From all the Korbanos mentioned in Parshas Vayikra, the Torah introduces the laws of the flour MIncha offering in a different way than the rest.  In contrast to other Korbanos where the Torah says, “if a person shall bring…,” here the Torah prefaces with a different description: “If a soul shall bring a Mincha offering.”  Explaining the usage of the term “soul” for this particular context, the Gemara famously explains that it is the poor man that the Torah is addressing, and given that he cannot afford the regular animal offering and is forced to suffice with the simple and meek flour offering, God adds that he will consider this deprived MInchah as if the poor man had offered his very soul.  It seems that there is extra significance attributed to the poor man’s offering, that despite how modest his MIncha seems, God accepts it with extra respect than other Korbanos.

In the Purim story, one of the turning points is when Achashverosh instructs Haman to honor Mordechai with a special public parade ride on the King’s horse, and when Haman went to Modechai to carry out his instructions, he found Mordechai sitting and teaching children the laws of the Mincha offering.  The Gemara says that Haman exclaimed: “Your small fingers of Kemitza have outweighed the 10,000 silver coins that I offered the King to destroy you!”  What was the power of the Mincha offering, and why was Haman so afraid of it?

Although we understand the value of the special significance attributed to the poor man’s MIncha, what would happen if we look at it from the rich man’s perspective?  It almost seems like the rich man is being penalized for his affluence, as if his money is getting in the way of attaining the same connection to God as the poor man.  The truth is that the poor man does have certain advantages from his indigence, and that his very disadvantages can become advantages.  As we see in the way fire burns, it is fuel that creates the flames, as the fire breathes and leaps through consuming and destroying the fuel beneath it.  A deep and sublime paradox, fire is alive only because it simultaneously destroys its fuel.  Fire represents the work of man- his passions and vitality to create and affect, and just as fire needs fuel to consume, one can only harness passion and build with fire if there is some simultaneous consumption of fuel.  At any one second in life, we can only be doing one thing, and while we constantly choose how to spend our time, we are also burning all the other possibilities of how to use that time.  That is our fuel- the consumption of the other possibilities through our decisions that sacrifice on what we did not choose.  It is these sacrifices that stoke our coals and burn fires that motivate and enable us to succeed and work with purpose and mission in our lives, and as we can see, the level of passion is always commensurate with the level of sacrifice that brought to the decision.  Being that more sacrifice equals more fuel, we can understand that the less we choose to do any given activity, less fire and productivity will be in that activity.  The difference between the poor and rich men is in their fuel, as the poor man is blessed with the opportunities to use larger amounts of fuel than the rich man, and it is through his greater amounts of sacrifice that he finds greater passion in his actions.  The rich man stands at a disadvantage with his offerings, because despite his large animal offering, he lacks the power and fuel that the poor man’s flour contains.  Although we never wish to be “poor” and to be forced to sacrifice, this perspective shows us that our poverty is really an opportunity to be turned into greater fuel for our fires, and if used properly, poverty can be the greatest advantage for the poor man.

Mordechai called upon the Mincha offering to inspire the children around him, because as the threat of annihilation hovered above them, they found themselves “poor” and weak in the Jewish identity and pride, and Mordechai wished to show the children that this could be an opportunity for greater fuel in serving God.  When it is so hard to be a Jew, any Jewish acts will now be sacrificing much more, and as a result, they will mean much more, and so Mordechai taught the laws of Kemtiza to provide this motivation.  Haman came from the rich man’s perspective- the King was quite indifferent about his plan to kill the Jews and didn’t even care about the 10,000 silver coins.  Haman had barely sacrificed a thing to bring his nefarious plot to fruition, and as he came to Mordechai, he was humbled to find that the Jews' fuel was larger and more stubborn than his own fuel to destroy them.  Haman’s fuel was his jealousy and anger towards Mordechai and his insubordinate acts, but he found that the fuel of these feelings far paled before the fuel of the poor Jews who were learning a lesson from the Mincha to sacrifice to be Jews. 

Thu, June 20 2024 14 Sivan 5784