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   by Jacob Solomon

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It is a burnt offering, a satisfying offering to G-d. When a person offers a grain-offering to G-d, it shall be of fine flour (1:17, 2:1).

Rashi comments on the words: “It is a burnt offering, a satisfying offering to G-d” that it is the sincere desire to please the Creator that counts. Whether the person who brings the offering is rich or poor, it is his/her desire to do the best with the available resources that is the important thing. This can well be extended today to include those who help others in need with their resources and with their time.

This is immediately followed by ‘when a person’ offers a grain-offering to G-d, it shall be of fine flour. The Hebrew word used is nefesh, meaning soul. It is used later on in the Parasha in several places, in referring to sin-offerings which are brought for accidental transgression of negative commandments, and in some cases willful transgression of negative commandments following the desire to make amends.

As a suggestion, the word nefesh includes aspects of the human personality that involve conscience. Man – alone of the animal – has a conscience, and living happily means being able to live with oneself. A sincere, mature person has ‘observing ego’. That means the capacity of looking at him/herself from the outside and considering whether his/her behavior is in harmony with the standards implied in the Torah and for that matter, common decency. Happiness is characteristic of those in cognitive harmony. Unhappiness is characteristic of those in cognitive dissonance.

That means that for full personal development, a person has to feel he or she had done the best possible. Applied to relationships with the Creator, it means ‘keep in touch with Base’ in the most appropriate way. In Temple times, that was partly done through the offerings. This involved delicate conscience-driven considerations. Was the sin done accidentally (requiring an offering only) or was it done on purpose (requiring repentance – c.f. Ez. 18, 33)? Was it the offering most commensurate with the resources available, or the least that he or she could get away with?

Today, that might include mitzvot between Man and G-d – were the mezuzzot and tefillin of appropriate quality in terms of the person’s income? Have they been appropriately maintained and regularly checked? And between Man and Man – was help that could be given actually given when appropriate? Was enough money put aside for tzedaka?

As the early part of the daily morning service reminds: “A person should always fear G-d, whether in public or in private. And he should admit the truth and speak the truth to his heart” – live in cognitive reality, not cognitive dissonance…

For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at and on the material on the Haftara at .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


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