Wednesday nights - Rav Benzion's Tanya shiur..........Please continue to daven for the good health of the Rebbe (Yechiel Michel ben Devorah Leah) and Rebbetzin (Feiga bas Sarah).

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Vayikra: Hashem Wants YOU!

אדם כי יקריב מכם קרבן לה' - ויקרא א, ב
אדם למה נאמר, מה אדם הראשון לא הקריב מן הגזל, שהכל היה שלו, אף אתם לא תקריבו מן הגזל - רש"י בשם ויקרא רבה

When a person from among you will bring an offering to Hashem. (Vayikra 1:2). Just as Adam brought from that which belonged to him, similarly, when you bring a korban it must belong to you and not be something stolen. (Rashi)

The concept of מצוה הבאה מעבירה, that you can not perform a mitzvah with something that you acquired by unethical means, is a rule applicable universally across all of Torah. The question is begged, why did the Torah need to single this out with the mitzvah of korbanos?

In regards to korbanos, the lesson appears to be more than the classic “mitzvah by means of an aveira”. Clearly, if the animal was stolen can’t you bring it on the Altar. But there are instances when it may belong to you legitimately, yet if it was procured in an immoral or even less then noble fashion (see Devarim 23:19), since it is the antithesis of the whole purpose of korbanos, you can’t use that animal.

Confused Service

We all were endowed with talents and gifts, each and every one of us unique. However, most choose to live their lives by dedicating themselves to something which appeals to them and not utilizing the particular talent or gift that G-d gave us for His specific purpose.

The most conspicuous example is women who decide that rather than serve G-d by being wives and mothers, they would prefer to serve G-d by being rabbis. That is not what G-d wants of them. Not that the calling is a bad calling – it’s a wonderful calling – but it isn’t theirs; it’s not what G-d wants. If they are intent on “serving” in this fashion then they are essentially serving with stolen goods.

The same goes for the rich person who wants to serve G-d by removing himself from the world. By not being a part of the community when the community needs his input and support, he is stealing a role which does not belong to him.

Surely there is place for asceticism. There is place for somebody who wants to remove themselves from the day to day cares of the world, but it shouldn’t be someone to whom G-d has given all of these resources. If he’s been given these resources it is because he’s supposed to pour them back into the community, be part of it, listen to the pain of the community, understand and respond to their needs. If this person has placed themselves in solitude to be G-dly and spiritual, he is serving G-d but with something stolen. It is somebody else’s way of life, not his. The idea and even his intentions are not without merit, but stolen wares do not belong on the Altar of Divine service.

Indulgence Feeds the Poor

Here is a well-known story that brings this point out in rather wry a fashion.

Looking for direction, a very affluent man once visited the Rebbe Reb Dov Ber, the Magid of Mezritch, zy”a. During the course of the conversation, the Magid inquired as to how this man goes about his day and the like. Wanting to impress the Magid, the chasid said, “I do not indulge in the world. A whole week I reject eating anything other than bread and water. Only on  Shabbos do I allow myself to enjoy a little bit.”

The Magid reprimanded him: “A man of your stature is not to deprive himself of any delicacies or pleasures. From now on, I want you to eat three sumptuous meals every day.”

After the man left, the chassidim rushed over and asked to know what the Magid had said. “I can’t figure it out,” admitted the wealthy man. “I know one is not supposed to indulge the physical senses and get into materialism, but the Rebbe told me I am supposed to eat three good meals a day and really enjoy my gashmius.”

Equally bewildered and curious, the chassidim approached the Magid and received the following explanation: “This man eats bread and water a whole week. When a poor person approaches him for charity, what do you think happens? He assumes, ‘I get by with just bread and water – this pauper should be able to manage on rocks and sand’. If he is accustomed to eating meat and drinking fine wine, maybe he will give the poor man bread and water.”

You And Yours

Every individual needs to look at what G-d has given them regardless of what it may be and not shy away from it. We need to serve G-d in what our G-d given role is and not what we fancy or what our personal glory is. If you are going to bring an offering to G-d, bring it from the resources that G-d has given you. Don’t try to serve G-d with somebody else’s resource or purpose. They don’t belong to you and they are not fit to bring to the Altar, the platform of Divine service.

Just as the first man in history served G-d with his own gifts and abilities, so too must each and every one of us strive to uncover our own role and not steal the service of others. Hashem wants us. He wants you and yours.