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Sparks Waiting to Ignite

Parshas Vayikra

We are introduced to the complex laws and intricacies of korbanos, the sacrificial offerings made to Hashem in the times of the Mishkan and subsequent Beis Hamikdash. One korban in particular was known as the mincha, referred to as the simplest offering, and consisted of only finely ground, high-quality wheat flour, olive oil, and frankincense.

א: וְנֶפֶשׁ כִּי תַקְרִיב קָרְבַּן מִנְחָה לַד׳ סֹלֶת יִהְיֶה קָרְבָּנוֹ וְיָצַק עָלֶיהָ שֶׁמֶן וְנָתַן עָלֶיהָ לְבֹנָה:

1: And if a person brings a meal offering to G-d, his offering shall be of fine flour. He shall pour oil over it and place frankincense upon it.

Rashi comments that normally, the poor man was the one who gave the mincha offering, most likely because it was the cheapest. The gemara in Menachos teaches that Hashem viewed the korban mincha as though the givers were offering themselves, meaning that although it was such a simple korban, Hashem nonetheless viewed it on the highest of levels. The Midrash teaches us that, in general, if two people come before a judge where one is impoverished and one is affluent, the judge will usually favor the impoverished one. Hashem, however, does not differentiate between a poor man's korban and a wealthy man's, and just like He doesn't make any discrepancy in the potency of one man's prayer over another man's, the same is true regarding each man's sacrifices.

Rabbi Leib Chasman zt”l, the Mashgiach of Chevron Yeshiva, asked a powerful question. The above comparison between one man's tefillah to another's and one's man korbanos to another's – doesn't seem to make much sense. When it comes to korbanos, it would be logical to think that a wealthy man, who can afford to give a much nicer sacrifice, would be favored over a poor man's simple flour and oil sacrifice. This is what Rashi and the posuk are specifically coming to teach us is not the case – כאילו הקריב נפשו לפני – “His Korban is viewed as though he offered his soul to Me.” However, how could it be possible that Hashem would consider one tefillah to be more worthy over another? There is no way to afford nicer tefillos besides the kavanah within our hearts! What’s even more, is that it’s all Hashem Who makes or breaks a person's financial position! So would Hashem ever come to favor a wealthy or poor man's tefillah over any other? Financial status may have an impact on a person’s korban, but it certainly shouldn’t impact the tefillos they offer.

Rav Leib Chasman explains that this posuk is coming to redefine for us the definition of 'poor'. In reality, Hashem defines impoverishment as an עני בדעת – “On who is impoverished in the way that they think.” We know the famous teaching from Pirkei Avos, that a truly wealthy man is one who is ‘bisame'ach bi'chelko’ – The one who is happy with his portion. In regards to this, the Gemara in Nedarim (.מא) teaches us that there is no such thing as a poor man... except one who is poor b'da'ato – in his knowledge and perspective. A poor man is defined by Hashem within the context of how one thinks about himself and behaves. This is precisely what our midrash above is coming to teach us. Even a 'poor' man, who is impoverished in the way he thinks, the way he acts, and his relationship to Hashem – even his sincere prayers, which are generally lacking life and vitality, are not discredited in their potential by Hashem, and nor are his korbanos.

Hashem accepts all forms and levels of kedusha, our innate holiness, which stems not from a person's financial or societal standing, but rather from the depths and sincerity of a person's heart. Hashem doesn't define wealth or affluence as a barometer to a person's true inherent value when, after all, He is the one who decides what a person's financial status will ultimately be. The true definition of 'impoverishment' in G-d's eyes is based off the value and investment a person pours into developing a connection to themselves, their surroundings, and their spirituality and connection to Hashem. Our posuk is coming to teach us that even one who is a 'poor person' in all these regards, Hashem will still accept their prayers and korbanos all the same, as if they were sacrificing their very selves. When the posuk says “ונפש כי תקריב", it implies that even those people who have very little to no connection and who may be unable to connect in any other form, Hashem nonetheless recognizes their true inherent spark of greatness, waiting to be ignited at any moment. Purim is all about bringing out that innate gadlus and inner beauty from within and letting it go on Purim in pure joy and celebration of our relationship with our Creator. May we all merit this Purim to rejoice in Hashem's bracha and shefa, giving over the most sincere and genuine tefillos and avodah to Hashem that we can muster, and utilize this special yuntif to light up those inner sparks waiting to be ignited.

Have a good Shabbos!

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