The Book of Leviticus, contains some of the most difficult
subjects in the Torah. The concept of sacrifices is one that is very
foreign to the "modern" mind. There are, however, many essential
lessons to use in our divine service.
"Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them,
when a person from [amongst] you will offer up a sacrifice to G-d, from
the cattle, herds or flocks should the sacrifice be brought." (Lev.
The Midrash, however, interprets the verse to give us
a deeply challenging insight. "Speak to the Children of Israel
and say to them, when a person from you will offer up a sacrifice to
G-d...." - G-d wants us, not just our sacrifices. Every sacrifice
had to be accompanied by genuine repentance before it was accepted.
In fact, every sacrifice had to be accompanied by genuine
repentance before it was accepted. The priest was able to tell if the
person was sincere in his feelings. If not, he would signal to the administering
Levites to sing a soul-stirring melody that would arouse the sacrificer
to genuine repentance. Only then would the sacrifice be acceptable.
Only when one gives up something of himself does he make
a sacrifice that is pleasing to G-d.
The priest shall burn the entire animal on the altar
as a complete fire offering, a pleasing fragrance to G-d."
Is it possible that the Torah would have us believe that
the stench of burning animal flesh, bones and feathers is a pleasant
fragrance? Yet when the offering is brought with the appropriate intentions
of humility and teshuva, then, to G-d the smell is indeed fragrant.
What seems offensive to us may indeed be a pleasing fragrance for
[Based on sources in Chasidut and Kabbalah; first published
in B'Ohel Hatzadikim, Vayikra 5760]
Rabbi Binyomin Adilman is the former head of
the Nishmas Chayim Yeshiva in Jerusalem. Back issues of his weekly parsha
sheet, B'ohelei Tzadikim, from which this article was taken, may be
found on www.nishmas.org.