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Re-Gifting - In Memoriam of Mr. David M. Warren (Menachem Dovid ben Harav Yosef Z'L)
“G-d spoke to Moses saying: When an ox sheep or a goat is born it shall remain under its mother for seven days; and from the eighth day forward it may be brought as a fire-offering to G-d.” (Leviticus 22:26-27)

Rebbe Tanchuma (Midrash Rabba, Vayikra 27:2; Compilation of Homiletic 400 CE - 600 CE) quotes Job (41:3) and explains the verse. “Who has preceded Me (G-d) and I will repay him; for all under the heavens is mine.” Who was able to praise Me (G-d), before I gave him a soul... Who was able to place a Mezuza before I gave him a house... Who was able to bring Me a fire-offering before I gave him an ox sheep or goat.

As the Mahrzu (Rabbi Ze'ev Volf Einhorn, Vilna 19th Century explains Rebbe Tanchuma), Man doesn't deserve reward for his good deeds. This is because he is not giving to G-d anything of his. Everything that one may give has already been given to him by G-d and he is simply returning what was given to him. It is as though a servant or employee is giving something to his master or boss that already belongs to him.

“Who has preceded G-d”, meaning nothing is personally ours it was all given to us. "And I will repay him”, since we did not create anything we cannot deserve payment for what we contributed. We are merely thanking G-d for what has been given to us.

And yet, the Mahrzu concludes that G-d does expect to us to assume that we deserve payment (reward) for our deeds as if we actually gave of what was completely ours.

The proper perspective is understanding that intellectually nothing is really ours and yet we are allowed to “gift it” to G-d – the one who gave it to us. This is not fathomable on human level. It is as if we are re-gifting what was given to us to the same person who gave it to us. Yet we can only thank him for his permission to actually feel as if we are giving of ourselves.
Shabbat Shalom


 
   
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