While some controversy exists among the Rishonim as to the purpose of sacrifices in a Jew’s service to Hashem, the Torah is clear in its description of Hashem’s enjoyment of the sacrifices. The Torah states regarding all Olah sacrifices, ones that are burned completely, “Ishei Raiach Nichoach LaHashem” “It is a burnt offering that is a satisfying aroma to Hashem.” However, the Torah makes no distinction in regard to the type of sacrifice the Olah should be, whether it must be an animal, bird, or flour offering.
It is this observation that prompts the Mishnah (Menachot 110a) to comment “Lomar Licha Echad HaMarbeh ViEchad HaMamit U’Bilvad SheYiChavein Libo LaShamayim.” “This teaches you that whether a person gisves a costly one or an inexpensive one, as long as he directs his heart to heaven, the type is irrelevant.”
Ohr HaChayim raises the following question: if the Torah’s intention is to emphasize that Kavanah is the critical element for God’s acceptance of our Korbanot, the Torah should have written “Ishei Reiach Nichoach LaHashem” regarding the least costly offering. If so, we would have deduced a Kal VaChomer: if the simple bird offering is called a satisfying aroma unto God, a costly animal offering should certainly satisfy God as well. Additionally, if the Mincha offering, an extremely simple one, pleases Hashem, the bird and animal offerings, two expensive offerings, should also undoubtedly please Him. . The Torah could have written “Ishei Reiach Nichoach LaHashem” once concerning the most inexpensive Korban to relay the message that the Kavanah of an offering is more important than the type of offering. Why did the Torah write the phrase next to each and every offering?
Ohr HaChayim suggests that had the Torah written “Ishei Reiach Nichoach” only in its description of the less expensive flour or bird offerings, one would have inferred a different Kal VaChomer and believed that it is true that a more expensive offering is better, but Hashem has compassion for the poor and is therefore willing to accept even a more simple flour or bird offering. Therefore, the Torah states “Ishei Reiach Nichoach” regarding every offering to assure poor people that God will be satisfied with their simple offerings.
According to this reasoning, we would have concluded that one who gives less is similar but not equal to one that offers more. The Torah, however, wishes to accent that one who gives less is completely equal to one who gives more. As a result, the phrase of “Reiach Nichoach” is written next to all offerings, both inexpensive and costly.
Perhaps it is for this reason that the Torah introduces the phrase “Reiach Nichoach” with the word “Ishei.” It seems obvious that the offerings were Ishei, burned on the fire, because the Torah states that the offerings were burned “Al HaEtzim Asher Al HaEtz” “On the wood that was on the fire.” Nevertheless, the Torah teaches that each of the offerings is burned because in the end, all of the Korbanot become “Ishei”; all are burned in the fire and become ashes. Thus, at the moment of God’s acceptance of the Korban, it is no longer distinguishable which type of offering was brought, but rather the fire reduces all of them to ashes. The outcome is that the type of Korban that one brought was insignificant; rather, only Hashem’s acceptance was relevant.
We should be encouraged by the words of the Ohr HaChayim in all aspects of our Avodat Hashem. Whether we can afford to give only a small amount of Tzedaka or have only a limited amount of time to study Torah, we must realize that all Mitzvot please Hashem