Gifts from the Heart
Yael Eckstein | April 13, 2021
“‘But if she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’”—Leviticus 12:8
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is a double reading, Tazria-Metzora, from Leviticus 12:1—15:33. Tazria means “conceived” and Metzora means “diseased.”
A few years ago, I visited a Fellowship-funded foster home where 11 beautiful children, whose own parents are unable to care for them properly, had formed a second family. When I arrived at the home, each child thanked me for the Fellowship’s help and then presented me with a gift. The gift was 11 rocks, but what made them so special was that the children had painted and written a one-word blessing such as “health,” “love,” or “joy” on each of them.
Until this very day, these rocks are among my most cherished gifts, not because they cost a lot of money, but because of what they represent — the sincere investment of the hearts and souls of those precious children.
Gifts from the Heart
In this week’s Torah portion, we learn that a woman who has given birth must bring two sacrifices to God – one lamb and one pigeon or dove. However, the Scripture indicates that if the woman couldn’t afford to bring a lamb, she was not to dismay. She could bring two birds instead. As the Scripture concluded, “In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean.”
Notice that in this instance, two different physical gifts could provide the same spiritual outcome. This is because when we give to God, it is never about what we give; it’s about our thoughts and feeling when we give it. Spiritual outcomes are determined by spiritual input, not physical items.
Often when we want to make a gift to God’s purposes, we hold back because we feel what we have to offer is not enough. So instead of giving what we feel to be inadequate, we might give nothing at all. But God wants us to know that the amount we give is not what is important. What’s important is that the gift comes from our heart. As Paul instructed the faithful in the Christian Bible, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (1 Corinthians 9:7).
Just as we value gifts from other people that come from heart, God values gifts from our heart. As long as someone gives to the best of their ability, God cherishes that gift – no matter what amount – more than we can ever imagine.
What was the most meaningful gift you ever received and why? Share your answer below.