As you may be aware, the entire staff this year has been studying together with Dr. Leslie Bogad on the topic of growth mindset. One of the main principles of this study is to understand that when we have areas of weakness we can overcome them through effort. While many people will say, “I am just not a math person,” which represents a fixed mindset, a growth mindset would say, “I am not good at math yet.” The power of yet... I would therefore like to use an article on this week’s parsha by Rabbi Yehonasan Gefen over a two-week period, which illustrates the power of effort and process over results, representative of a growth mindset.
Effort vs. Results
Vayikra 2:1: “When a soul (nefesh) offers a meal-offering to Hashem, his offering shall be of fine flour; he shall pour oil upon it and place frankincense upon it.”
Rashi, Vayikra 2:1: sv. When a soul offers: “It does not say nefesh with regard to any of the gift offerings except the meal offering. For whom is it normal to offer a meal offering? A poor person; Hashem says, I consider it as if he offered his soul.”
Rashi, based on the Gemoro, explains the unusual usage of the word nefesh that means “soul.” It teaches us that even though the poor man gives a simple korbon, offering, Hashem ascribes great value to it, since a great amount of self-sacrifice was invested by him in order to be able to bring even this humble offering.
The Midrash tells a number of stories to demonstrate this point. One of them involves King Agrippas who wanted to offer a thousand birds on one day; he instructed the Kohen Godol not to allow anyone else to bring an offering on that day, yet one poor man came with two doves to offer. The Kohen Godol told him that he could not do so because of the king’s instructions. The man replied that every day he caught four doves; he offered two of them and made his livelihood from the other two. He had strong emunah that it was the merit of his daily offering that enabled him to make his livelihood. Accordingly, he argued, he would lose his livelihood if he were unable to bring this offering. The Kohen Godol could not refuse his supplications and accepted his offering. That night, Agrippas was told in a dream that the poor man’s simple offering was considered greater than his thousand.
One of the important lessons we learn from here is that Hashem is more interested in the process that led to a mitzvah more than the actual resultant mitzvah. The effort a person makes is far more significant than the results he achieves.
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman