Pesach, 450 words – What Are We Offering Gd?
Two sacrifices – a burnt-offering (Olah, a lamb) and a sin-offering (Chatos, dove or pigeon) – are to be brought by a woman who has given birth. In cases of financial hardship two doves or pigeons are to be offered.
The obligation does not expire but accumulates. Unfortunately this means that the financial burden also accumulates.
It appears from the Gemara [KeRisos 8a] that many women were unable to afford even the cost of two birds due to artificial market manipulation – “At one point the price of a pair of doves rose to a golden dinar. The president of the Sanhedrin, R Shimon ben Gamaliel pronounced, ‘I will not sleep tonight before the cost is reduced to just one silver dinar!’ Thereupon he taught, ‘A woman who has accumulated multiple sacrifices need only bring one set. She is exempt from the others.’”
This ruling effectively reduced demand causing the price to plummet and thereby destroyed the cartel.
Similarly, when Rabbi Akiva challenged Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri on a Halachic matter he worded it thus: “Why are you wasting Jewish money?” [Bechoros 40a]
Today the cost of living a Jewish life is accelerating in utter disregard of R Akiva’s directive, “Why are you wasting Jewish money?”
The pretence that we are making Gd happy by pursuing ever increasing Halachic stringencies is a sham and a disgrace. This is a game of pretence; let’s see if we can fool Gd into believing that we really are so very holy by insisting that we only accept the very greatest stringencies. Whilst all along [although we may have fooled ourselves] we are really only playing a game of one-up-man-ship. And we believe [or more accurately blame Gd] that our supercilious punctiliousness is not superficial and that we are honestly in pursuit of Gdliness.
Pesach is the unfortunate sacrifice that appears to bear the brunt of this frivolous Gd defying comedy that trivialises Rabbi Akiva’s cry, “Why are you wasting Jewish money?” How has it come to the point that Kosher for Passover certificates are sported on toilet cleaners? What have the Kosher certifiers been promoting to cultivate such a distorted image in the minds of their constituents?
Rava permitted various foods because, “The Torah protects the money of Israel” [Chullin, 49b and 76b-77a]
In fact the Sefer HaChinuch rules that offering a sacrifice that is beyond ones means [where the Torah provides a variety of means based sacrificial options] accomplishes nothing and the appropriate sacrifice must still be brought.
It is quite clear that the size and expense is not significant in Gd’s eyes, no one denies that Gd seeks our heart not the wallet that He puts money into. Undertaking expenses that are beyond ones means distracts us from what ought to be our primary focus, we lose sight of Gd for all the artifices we have generated in His name. As the Prophet already wept, “Indeed they serve me fattened sacrifices [from the money I put into their pocket] and sweet words but their hearts are far from me [Yeshayahu 29:13]