And Israel their father said to them: ………………and carry down to the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spicery and ladanum, nuts, and almond." (43:11)
Jacob had now agreed to allow his sons to return to Egypt in order to purchase food during the famine. The 12 tribes and Jacob did not know that the viceroy of Egypt was Joseph. Jacob wants his sons to present a gift to the viceroy in order for them to perhaps gain favor in his eyes. The Sforno wants to understand the reason why such an"unusual" gift was suggested by Jacob.The following is the answer given by the Sforno:" If one brings a gift to a greedy man, it must be of great quantity to satisfy his excessive appetite, as was the gift sent by Jacob to Esau. However, when a gift is presented to a generous, important person who lacks nothing, it is better to bring a smaller gift of choice and rare items which he will appreciate better."(End of quote)
There exits a very important lesson concerning our service to G-d in this very explanation. How so? If G-d lacks nothing, what can we possibly offer Him as a gift? As Human Beings we can only offer Him something small, yet it must be of a high quality. What can it possibly be? I would like to propose the following answer ,Bezrat Hashem, based on a Gemara in Bava Batra 9a.
It states the following: " Rabbi Dostai Ben Yanni lectured: Come and see the difference between a mortal king and Hashem. The nature of a mortal king is that when a person brings him a present, it may or may not be accepted: and even if it is accepted, it is uncertain whether or not the king will receive him. Not so in regard to Hashem. If a person gives just a small coin to a poor man, he is considered worthy to receive the Devine Presence, for it says, "As for me, through charity I will merit to behold Your (G-d's) face……………………(Psalms17: 15).Rabbi Elazar would first give a coin to a poor man and then go to pray." (End of quote) It seems apparent from this Gemara that the small yet quality gift Hashem desires from us is charity. This is the means by which an "ordinary" person can possibly have an opportunity to behold G-d. The power inherently contained inside a small coin designated for charitable purposes is enormous, especially before prayer. This is how a Jew presents him or herself before G-d. It's a seemingly small act, yet this is what G-d wants. Can we possibly afford to forego the opportunity? I think not!
I would like to illustrate this point with an original parable, Bezrat Hashem. There once lived a poor village boy. Near his village, a nobleman had an estate with the most magnificent orchard with the world's most beautiful trees. This young village boy often dreamed of being able to grow and nurture his own orchard. Yet, he lacked the necessary funds to accomplish his dream. One day as he was finishing eating an apple, he realized that perhaps he must start small and use the very seeds he is about to throw away. After many years of planting, a great orchard developed. This very orchard became world renowned and admired by many visitors. Many of us dream of accomplishing great feats, yet do not know where to begin. Perhaps greatness can be found in the simplest activities, namely a small coin of charity.
Have a good Shabbos.
This Torah thought is being dedicated to my beloved father, Nachman Shimon ben Yehuda Meir Hakohan, Z"L.