PARSHAS VAYIKRA

The Price of Serving Hashem

The Book of Vayikra (Leviticus), contains some of the most difficult subjects in the Torah. The concepts of sacrifices is one that is very foreign. Nevertheless, without becoming involved in the dispute of whether or not there will be sacrifices again in the future, we can still draw out some important lessons to use in our Avodas Hashem.

In verse 2 of the Parsha, Hashem tells Moshe to, " Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them, when a man from you will offer up a sacrifice to G-d, from the cattle, herds or flocks should the sacrifice be brought". The Midrash however, rereads the verse to give us a deeply challenging insight. The new reading is as follows: Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them, when a man will offer up a sacrifice FROM YOU, shall be an offering to Hashem . . . Hashem wants us, not just our sacrifices. In fact, every sacrifice had to be accompanied by genuine repentance before it could be accepted. The Cohen/Priest was able to tell if the person was sincere in his feelings. If not, he would signal to the administering Levites to sing a soul stirring melody that would arouse the sacrificer to genuine repentance. Only then could the sacrifice become acceptable.
Only when one gives up something of himself, does he make a sacrifice that is pleasing to Hashem.

A Famous Story about Self Sacrifice

The richest man in Cracow had just died and nobody wanted to attend to his funeral preparations. He had always lived as in exile in his own city. He never gave money to the poor. He had for years turned away every appeal for Tzedakah that had come his way. He had consistently ignored his community for years. They called him Shia the Kamtzan (miser). He had no children. Before his death he had called the Burial Society, but they refused to bury him unless he gave them a certain amount that they could give to the poor. He refused. So he died, and they just left his body alone in the house. Finally, after several days, a neighbor took pity on him and buried him at the edge of the graveyard. Soon afterwards, the Rav of the city, R' Yom Tov Lipman, noticed that there was a lack in communit funds. Numerous poor families began coming to him for help. When called the head of the charity committee, he learned that an unprecedented number of families were looking for funds to meet Shabbos expenses. R' Yom Tov Lipman began to investigate. As he questioned each petitioner, the story emerged. The envelope! Each one had the same account. Every Friday morning there was an envelope that had been slipped underneath the front door, with just enough money inside to cover the week's expenses. How long had this been going on? Each resident again told the same story. He had been to see Shia the Kamtzan, who had interrogated him thoroughly as to his family size, needs etc., then had thrown him out of the house empty-handed with a violent warning never to dare beg from him again. Soon afterwards, the envelopes appeared. R' Yom Tov Lipman was gripped with an uncontrollable trembling as realized the undeniable truth, that nobody had ever known, Shia the Kamtzan had been supporting Cracow for years, secretly, not wanting to derive any possible personal benefit from his mitzvos. In order to do that, he gave up friends, community, anything that resembled normal life.
R' Yom Tov Lipman called for all the residents of Cracow's Jewry to assemble the next evening in the Central Synagogue. R' Yom Tov Lipman began to wail, "Shia, Shia, Holy Shia. How can we stand before your memory. How can we possibly beg your forgiveness?!" The Rav revealed to the citizens of the City of Cracow the real story of Shia the Kamtzan.
R' Yom Tov Lipman inscribed in his personal last will that he buried outside the fence of the graveyard, next to Shia. And he also had the headstone changed. On the grave of the miser it is now inscribed, "Shia HaKamtzan HaKadosh." (The Holy One)

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