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A Communal Offering

Does G-d ask for too much? Considering that there are 613 mitzvot in the Torah that Jews are expected to observe, it may seem that G-d wants us to give up everything for His sake. Yet a closer look at Parshat Vayikra, which describes the offerings brought each day in the Mishkan (Sanctuary) shows that actually, G-d doesn’t ask for all that much.

Each day, there were two communal offerings brought, one in the morning and one in the evening. What did these offerings consist of? Nothing more than a single ram, a small measure of oil and wine, with a bit of flour and salt. The offering represented the three domains, animal, plant and inanimate matter.

The communal offerings were brought on behalf of the entire Jewish people, but each person did not have to donate the entire offering from his personal funds. Rather, each Jew donated a small sum to a communal fund, which was used to purchase the daily offering.

G-d does not demand of us that we sacrifice everything we own to Him, and leave ourselves with nothing. What is important to G-d is the manner in which we gave. G-d does ask that whatever we do give should be given wholeheartedly, with joy, enthusiasm and desire. Like the communal offering, our actual gift may be small. But to G-d, that gift may be great, provided we gave it with all our heart.

G-d, Who is infinite, is surely not in need of our offerings. That is why to Him, a large offering is no greater than a small offering. “The world and all it contains belongs to G-d.” However, G-d does give us control over our own desires and emotions. When we direct these towards G-d, in a generous spirit, this is what gives Him the greatest pleasure.

The daily communal offerings were brought during a limited time frame—in the morning at sunrise, and in the evening at dusk—yet their effects lasted all day. When a Jew begins his day with an offering to G-d, the effect is not limited to that time alone, but pervades his entire day.

Immediately upon arising, when a Jew opens his eyes, his first act is to say “Modeh Ani,” to thank G-d for restoring his soul. “I give thanks to You, the living and everlasting King, who has restored my soul within me with mercy. Great is Your faithfulness.” When we begin our day in this fashion, the rest of the day continues in a spirit of dedication, regardless of how much we are actually able to give.

Another point to keep in mind is the communal nature of the offering. In Hebrew, the word for community is tzibur, which can also serve as an acronym for three types of people: Tzadikim, Beinonim and Reshaim—righteous, average and wicked. All three types were included in the communal offering, and indeed, it wouldn’t have been complete without them. The same is true regarding our efforts to prepare the world for the Redemption. Although there were righteous individuals who could have brought Moshiach in their time, in their own merit, G-d chose to wait so that every Jew has the opportunity to partake in this wondrous activity, and so we can all share in the benefit.


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