The Value of a Poor Man’s Gift (Vayikra)

The Value of a Poor Man’s Gift (Vayikra)

The best loved by God are those that are rich, yet have the humility of the poor, and those that are poor and have the magnanimity of the rich. -Sa’di

The Book of Leviticus is replete with a multiplicity of sacrifices which could be brought in the desert Tabernacle (and later on in the Temple of Jerusalem). The Torah lists various details and protocols of a wide variety of sacrifices. There are different types of sacrifices to absolve one from different types of inadvertent sins. There are sacrifices of purification, of thanksgiving, and more. There are sacrifices for individuals, and sacrifices for the community at large. The sacrifices can be animals, big or small, birds, and even just grain.

The Bechor Shor on Leviticus 1:17 cites the often quoted Talmudic dictum that the phrase “pleasant aroma” (Re’ah Nichoach) is mentioned by both the simplest offering as well as by the most lavish sacrifice. The repetition of the phrase comes to show that the important part of a sacrifice is not how grand or humble it is, but rather that one’s heart should be focused upon Heaven.

However, in the Bechor Shor’s very next commentary on Leviticus 2:1, he highlights the simple grain “Mincha” offering which is designated as Kodesh Kodashim (Holy of holies).

The Bechor Shor explains that because of the cheapness of a Mincha offering, it was most common for the poor to bring it and this made it especially dear to God who has a special love for the downtrodden. When one of limited means takes from his meager resources and gives freely from his precious little, that is the apex of giving and sacrifice which makes the act even more beloved by God.

May our giving be commensurate with our ability to do so and may we always be among those generous of spirit, soul, and means.

Shabbat Shalom,



To the memory of my colleague, Eric Rosen. A great man and mentor.

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