The Parsha begins this week with Hashem telling Moses to instruct Aaron and his children regarding the Olah offering. The Olah offering was the only offering that was totally burnt on the altar. When Hashem tells Moses to instruct Aaron regarding this offering, the word used is tzav es Aharon – command Aaron. The sages tell us that the word tzav is used whenever there is a financial loss in doing something, to arouse the person to do the mitzvah, the commandment anyway. At first glance this seems rather puzzling; we can understand why a person would need to be motivated to spend money for a mitzvah when they have to pay for it out of their own pocket. Kosher food is more expensive than non-kosher food. To buy a mezuzah or tefilin costs money. We have to be motivated and determined to spend money for these commandments. In the case of Aaron, however, this encouragement seems unnecessary. Aaron was not paying for the sacrifice out of his own pocket. Why should he need special encouragement to be careful with the olah offering?
The Torah is teaching us a most important lesson. Our natural mindset is to pay attention to those actions that offer us personal benefits. When we have no pleasure from doing something we tend to lose our interest in it. When a kohein (priest) brings a sacrifice there is a portion of meat that he receives as compensation for efforts. The one exception to this is the case of the olah offering. The olah offering is totally burned. The kohein does not even have one piece of meat for all of his efforts. The Torah tells us that this situation requires motivation. Moses had to give encouragement to Aaron and his children as to the importance and beauty of serving Hashem even without personal benefits.
This lesson applies to us on a daily basis. How often is it that we are faced with opportunities to do a mitzvah with no personal benefits? What is our attitude in such situations? Do we run to do them because of their importance or are we a little slow? We must learn from Aaron and his sons and thrive to do all commandments in all situations.