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Tzav: Toledot Yaakov Yosef: Higher than My Intentions

One who brings an offering must be sure and careful not to stumble in the two mistakes that were made by both Cain and Abel. He should be certain that he does not make the same mistake as Kayin and offer something on the altar that is less than the best. Hevel’s mistake was that, although he brought from the best of his flocks, he was not self-motivated. He only brought his offering after he saw that his brother Cain had brought one, his intent was to be like his brother, not to draw close to God. This is why the verse teaches that when a person brings in offering it must be, “from you,” it must come from the innermost part of his being, not motivated by any reason other than closeness to God.


However there are times when it is permissible to bring an offering or to serve God with less than perfect intention. That is, mainly, if a person strives to attain the level achieved by others. He is not doing it to win praise from others, but because he admires what others have achieved. Such a person can truly bring an offering called and, “Olah,” an offering that rises above the limited intention of the one bringing it.

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