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Parashat Metzora – Each According To His Ability

…וְאִם דַּל הוּא וְאֵין יָדוֹ מַשֶּׂגֶת

But if he is poor and cannot afford [these sacrifices]…

 

The Asham sacrifice brought by one who had tzara’at had an interesting caveat. If he couldn’t afford the standard animal sacrifice, he was allowed to bring a cheaper one instead.

There are people who form opinions about their own spiritual level based on where they are in relation to their friends, relatives, and acquaintances. This is patently incorrect. The Chafetz Chaim writes that this can unfortunately prevent people from reaching their full potential. If a wealthier man was to bring the sacrifice specified for one who couldn’t afford the regular one, he wouldn’t get forgiveness. It only worked for a poorer person. He was able to because that was all he could do.

Hashem’s expectations of people are measured based on that person’s abilities, and only his own abilities. The fact that others have certain limitations doesn’t affect that. If one doesn’t try enough to grow because he is above his peer group, he may be selling himself short.

Similarly, one shouldn’t be disheartened if he cannot accomplish what his peers can. Hashem knows exactly what we are capable of.

The Gemara tells a story of a Rabbi who passed away and came back to life. When asked what he saw in the spiritual realms he said “I saw an upside-down world.” People who were hailed as great men here sometimes had abilities to be much greater, and weren’t so highly regarded by Hashem. Others, who may have not been too well known here, but had reached their potential, regardless of what that was, were held in the highest regard by Hashem. This explains the response of the other Rabbis to him. “It’s this world that seems upside down, what you saw was right.” We just see where people are, but we have no way of knowing what percentage of one’s potential was reached, and that is the true barometer of greatness.

 

Shabbat Shalom

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