The taste of Shabbat – Vayikra 5777
Rav Mordechai Elon
Our parsha begins with the laws of burnt sacrifices from cattle or flock, moves on to sacrifices of birds and then the five sorts of Menachot- meal offerings, but before that, there is a less known sort of sacrifice- a wood sacrifice.
Our Rabbis state about the verse
וְנֶ֗פֶשׁ כִּֽי תַקְרִ֞יב קָרְבַּ֤ן מִנְחָה֙ לַֽ-ה֔' סֹ֖לֶת יִֽהְיֶ֣ה קָרְבָּנ֑וֹ…
And if a person brings a sacrifice of a meal offering to God
`The Torah doesn’t say "a meal offering" but "a sacrifice of a meal offering"` – In other words the word "sacrifice" looks superfluous. From here they conclude that just as a meal offering can be a sacrifice, also all of its components by itself can be an offering – oil, wine and, as our Rabbis teach , even wood. In other words, donation of the wood used to make the fire is called a sacrifice. We shall see that a wood sacrifice has an attribute that is not shared with any other, it is the happiest sacrifice. We will see how a piece of wood can become a sacrifice , and what makes it`s donation a happy event
The Gemara teaches us that when the first people came back from Babylon to build the second temple, there was a shortage of wood for the fire on the alter. A number of families volunteered to donate wood. As a reward it was decided that every year the temple would use wood donated by the same families on the day of their first donation, even if there was a huge stock of other wood. Not only that, but the day was designated for each family as a mini holiday, in which there were no eulogies or fasts, and it was forbidden to work. There day was so happy, that if Tisha BeAv had been delayed from Shabbat to Sunday, the family who celebrated the 10th of Av would delay the first to the 11th. What makes this day so happy for each family?