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"Be All That You Can Be!"

03/14/2019 02:50:08 PM


Rabbi Reuben Israel Abraham, CDR, CHC, USN (ret)

We find the following pasuk (verse) in this week's parashah, Parashat VaYikra: "When a person offers a meal-offering to HaShem, his offering shall be one of fine flour; he shall pour oil upon it and place frankincense upon it." (VaYikra 2:1)  A taxi driver in Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) once told an American yeshivah bachur (Yeshiva student) about a high-profile passenger he once drove in his taxi.  this person happened to be none other than the Steipler Gaon.  The Steipler asked the taxi driver if he had a designated time for learning Torah or if he spent any time learning Gemara (Talmud).  The driver replied that when he gets home after a long day in his cab, he quickly eats his supper and then runs out to a nightly shiur (Torah lesson).  He also admitted that because he is usually so exhausted he falls asleep only five minutes into the shiur.  "Because I only wake up 55 minutes later when Rabbi who teaches the shiur close his book with a snap, I only learn about 5 minutes of Gemara each day," he reluctantly admitted.  The Steipler exclaimed; "'V'nefesh ki takriv!' ("A person when he makes an offering!")  You are offering up your soul!"  

 Looking at Parashat VaYikra, if we had to come up with a Jewish recruitment slogan, it could be something similar to the title of this piece which was, at one time, the recruitment slogan for the United States Army, and it might go something like this: "Give all that you can give!"  We find in this week's parashah a listing of the various offerings (sacrifices) that were made for the various transgressions people make against each other and against Hashem.  One of the offerings made was called the minchah offering, and it was brought by a person who was so poor that he could not even afford to purchase two small turtledoves to offer up on the altar.  The minchah offering was a mere handful of flour.  The great Torah commentator Rashi noted that of all the different offerings made, only the minchah offering was described as "nefesh" - "a soul."  In essence, Rashi was saying that when bringing a minchah offering, the person was viewed by Hashem as offering his very soul because he was giving H'm all that he could afford.  And that offering was most precious to HaShem.

The taxi driver of the story worked to exhaustion each day, not because he wanted to but because he had to in order to provide for his family.  He needed the parnassah (financial support).  The fact that he voluntarily and willingly went to the shiur each night took much sacrifice (pun intended) in his part.  The Steipler Gaon recognized this, and so does Hashem.  After all, giving all that we are capable of giving is all that Hashem expects of us.  We should expect no less of ourselves than does He.

Sun, September 15 2019 15 Elul 5779