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The Crown of Halacha

Tetzaveh 5776 – A Satisfying Aroma

Give Hashem Your Elevation Offering

“You shall cause the entire ram to go up in smoke upon the Alter – it is an elevation offering (korban olah) to Hashem; it is a satisfying aroma, a fire offering to HASHEM” (29:18)

This korban did not smell like a bar-b-que. The carcass was burned in its entirety, including the hide, bones and blood. The Sifsai Chachamim points out that burning flesh and bone actually have a repugnant smell.

Therefore, it seems odd that the Torah would describe this odor as pleasant– a raiach nichoah. We must look deeper into the Torah’s description of the smell emanating from this korban.

Rashi explains: it is a satisfying aroma: It is a satisfaction to Me that I commanded and My will was performed. [from Zev. 46b]

But doesn’t the concept that “Hashem’s will was carried out” refer to every korban?  What is special about an elevation offering that can turn even the foulest smell into a pleasant odor for Hashem?

The answer is that the elevation offering is symbolic of a unique relationship that a person can establish with Hashem. Through this type of offering, where the entire animal is consumed on the mizbaiach, we can express our complete and selfless dedication to serving HaKodesh Baruch Hu. All other offerings are shared; part is burned on the mizbaiach and part is eaten by man. Only in the case of the elevation offering can we be assured of serving for its own sake.  This is the highest level of service and it is a raiach nichoach to Hashem, even if the mitzvah itself is less than aesthetic.

Today, we do not have the ability to bring elevation offerings. However, we can create a raiach nichoach by performing Hashem’s commandments wholeheartedly, without anticipating  anything in return. Whether it is giving tzadaka, counseling a friend, or staying late in the bais midrash, our “sacrifices” can turn even the simplest mitzvah into the highest offering and bring pleasure and satisfaction to Hashem.


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