July 14, 2024
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July 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

This week’s parsha, Vayikra, deals with korbanot (sacrifices). Korbanot are gifts to Hashem, either of meat or flour, from the Jewish people, through the kohanim. But what is the purpose of these gifts? Does Hashem need our food? Does He love barbecue? Let’s understand this better through a story.

On Galgalatz Island, in the South Pacific Ocean, rested a large inactive volcano. This volcano, Mount Trogdor, had not erupted in 300 years, and the townspeople nearby lived there without fear. In fact, the residents of Galgalatz Island were some of the most laid-back people in existence. Their children did not have bedtimes, and the adults had a three-hour break in the afternoon, during which they stopped relaxing and spent a few hours doing work before heading back to their hammocks. The weather there was beautiful, and life was good.

Although we cannot blame the residents for living the good life, we can blame them for other things. You see, when life is easy, people tend to get spoiled. So, like small children who are used to getting what they want, the Galgalatz Islanders were not great at self-sacrifice. Tzedakah wasn’t a problem; what do you give up other than some money? But anything that required effort was another story. You’ve been in the hammock for eight hours and your brother wants a turn? Nope––not giving it up. Your neighbor needs help getting coconuts down from his tree? Not giving up my nap time for that! So unfortunately, many people on Galgalatz Island who were in need of help went unassisted. This did not sit well with Rabbi and Rebbetzin Chill, who decided that drastic measures were needed.

One morning, the Rabbi and Rebbetzin woke up really early and headed toward the volcano in their pickup truck. On the back of the truck sat two gigantic speakers, some other audio equipment, and a bunch of rope. The Chills drove to the top of the volcano, and slowly lowered all the equipment into the volcano. After everything was safely inside, Rabbi Chill tied the rope around his waist, and the Rebbetzin lowered him in. Rebbetzin Chill then drove slowly back into town and quietly crept back into her home, hoping nobody had seen her. She slipped her pajamas back on, climbed into bed and waited.

No more than five minutes had passed before the Rebbetzin Chill heard the booming voice that she had been expecting. “Residents of Galgalatz Island! Awake from your slumber! Exit your homes! The Volcano Master demands your attention!” Right on cue, people began to step out onto their porches, but not looking frightened as the Rebbetzin had hoped; they looked annoyed more than anything else. “The Volcano Master demands your presence!” boomed the voice again. “Shhhh!” went the townspeople. “We are trying to sleep!” called out a woman wearing bunny rabbit slippers. “Chill, man!” commanded a boy is his Paw Patrol pajamas. And just as suddenly as they appeared, the people disappeared back into their homes.

However, the Volcano Master was not finished. “The Volcano Master DEMANDS YOUR PRESENCE!” echoed the voice, much louder than before. “Yeah, sure volcano dude!” said one man who decided to stay on his hammock because he was too lazy to go back inside. The Rebbetzin was shocked these people could be so disinterested, but that didn’t matter much longer. “IF YOU EVER WANT TO SEE YOUR PRECIOUS RABBI CHILL AGAIN, YOU WILL PRESENT YOURSELVES TO THE VOLCANO MASTER IMMEDIATELY!” Well, this got everyone’s attention. Once more, they exited their homes, this time looking a bit alarmed. Rebbetzin Chill came running out of her home. “My husband! Has anyone seen my husband!”

Well, that finally did it. They decided somebody had to go check this out.

“Whose turn is it to do something?” asked Mayor Quimby. “I helped a friend pick something up that he dropped two weeks ago, so I’m out,” said Ziggy Zigglestein. “Anyone since then?” the mayor asked. No response. “Well, I guess it’s back to the top of the list. Aaron Aardvarks, are you here?” However, as Mayor Quimby and Aaron started to get into the mayor’s car, the Volcano Master spoke once more. “AND DON’T THINK YOU CAN JUST SEND THE MAYOR AND AARON AARDVARKS! YOU MUST ALL COME!” A loud groan emitted from the crowd as everyone turned around and got in their cars to head to the Mount Trogdor.

Once the last community member arrived, Mayor Quimby began to speak. “Volcano Master, we are all here, what do you want from us?” The Volcano Master responded very simply. “I want what is most valuable!” After waiting a few moments in silence for the Master to continue, the Mayor chimed back in. “But what is most valuable? How do we know what to bring without knowing what you want?” However, he got nothing helpful in response. “Bring what is most valuable. Now GO!” The townspeople, startled for the first time, ran back to their cars and drove to the town hall for a meeting. At the meeting, the mayor hushed the crowd and asked a very simple question. “Who here has something extremely valuable?” Not one hand went up, but instead every head turned toward Robert Ross, known for his extremely valuable art collection. “Yeah, of course,” began Robert. “I can give some art. Even my most valuable painting, ‘Happy Trees.’ It’s worth a few million, but it’s nothing compared to other things I have. I don’t really like it anyway.”

So Robert headed home to collect Happy Trees and met everyone at the volcano. The Mayor stepped to the edge. “Oh Volcano Master, we have brought you the most valuable treasure on the Island, Happy Trees!” The Volcano Master was not pleased. “NOT ACCEPTABLE! BRING ME WHAT IS VALUABLE!” Fortunately, there was a backup plan. Dustin, the Diamond dealer, stepped forward. “I brought these rubies. Each ruby is worth more than the painting.” Again, this was not enough. “NOT ACCEPTABLE! BRING ME WHAT IS VALUABLE!” Now, everyone was getting nervous. Would they ever be able to please the Volcano Master? As they huddled together in hushed conversation, a small child of four or five walked toward the opening. “You want my blankie? It’s my favorite, but you can have it, if you will stop being angry.” The girl threw the blanket in and began to cry. Above her cries, and a less angry voice could be heard. “Thank you for the blanket. The Volcano Master is pleased. Who else has something valuable?”

At this point, the Rebbetzin stepped forward and spoke to the crowd. “Maybe what the Master means is that giving something away is more meaningful if you are giving something up that matters to you. Charity is wonderful, but true kindness comes from self-sacrifice, giving up something important. I suggest you each take a slip of paper (here, I brought some) and a pen (here, I brought some), and write down what you are willing to give up that is valuable to you.” The people took the pens and paper and began to write. “My second nap of the day,” wrote one. “An hour of free time,” wrote another. Each person took his or her note, crumbled it up and threw it into the mouth of the volcano. After a few minutes, the voice spoke one last time. “Excellent. I am very thankful for this all. Once you have each returned home, I will send your dear rabbi to you.”

From that day on, a major change occurred on Galgalatz Island. After spending a week following the promises they made to the “Volcano Master,” the townspeople realized what it means to sacrifice for others. They spent their free time helping each other with chores, giving advice, and anything else that was needed. Nobody ever truly understood how the Rebbetzin knew to bring paper and pens to the volcano. “Just got lucky, I guess,” she would always say with a smile.

Although Hashem does not need gifts from Bnei Yisrael, He understands the power of actions. When a person gives something up for someone else he or she begins to feel closer to the recipient. Similarly, when giving to Hashem, it’s not what He gets out of it, but what we gain. We learn to be generous and we gain a feeling of closeness to Hashem.

By Yair Daar

 

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