The Best and Finest – Parashat Vayikra

March 30, 2017 at 3:52 PM , ,

“…All fat is to G-d…” – Vayikra 3:16

כָּל חֵלֶב לַה – ויקרא ג, טז

When an animal is offered as a sacrifice, its premium fats—the choicest parts of its flesh—are burned on the Altar. The Rambam (Issurei Mizbeiach 7:11) interprets this as a universal principle as well: “The same applies to everything done for the sake of G-d—it must be of the finest and best. When one builds a house of prayer it should be finer than his private dwelling. When he feeds the hungry, he should give them the best and sweetest of his table. When he clothes the naked, he should give him the finest of his garments.When consecrating an object to the Temple, he should give the finest of his possessions. And so it is written, “All the fat is to G-d.”

The Talmud (Shabbos 133b) teaches a similar principle, yet from a different source in the Torah, and with an entirely different set of examples: “’This is my G-d, and I will beautify Him’ (Shemos 15:2). This means, beautify yourself before G-d in mitzvos. Make before Him a beautiful sukkah, a beautiful lulav, a beautiful shofar, beautiful tzitzis, and a beautiful Torah scroll.”

The Best and Finest

The difference between these two statements is that the Talmud speaks of beautifying your observance, whereas the Rambam teaches that by bringing an offering of superior quality, you enhance the value and effectiveness of the sacrifice itself.

The Talmud’s principle is applicable regardless of the status conferred on the object through its use in the performance of a mitzvah. The sukkah, lulav, shofar, tzitzis and Torah scroll may all remain in your personal possession, yet by performing G-d’s commands in a beautiful manner, you bring additional splendor to G-d—before whom you serve.

The Rambam, however, speaks only of instances comparable to sacrifices, such as donations to the Beis Hamikdash or gifts to the poor, where you are offering the object to G-d. Here, the emphasis is on the object that you are consecrating. When it is of the choicest and the finest—“All the fat is to G-d”—then not only is your observance beautiful, but the offering too is more complete and of greater merit.

—Likkutei Sichos, vol. 27, pp. 10-14

 

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