For an explanation of the methodology of this series, see the introduction.

"And if his sacrifice to G‑d, is a burnt offering from birds, he shall bring [it] from turtle doves or from young doves." (Lev. 1:14)

Peshat (basic meaning):

Rashi: "from birds"
But not all birds. Since it is stated: "an unblemished male, from cattle, from sheep, or from goats" (Lev. 22:19) [denoting that the requirement of] perfection and maleness apply [only] to animals, but [the requirement of] perfection and maleness does not apply to birds. One might think that even a bird that lacks a limb [may be brought for this offering]. Scripture, therefore, says [here]: "from birds" [but not all birds, excluding a bird lacking a limb].

[Because the verse specifies "young" doves, whereas it simply says "turtle-doves" without stating "young," it must refer to] adult ones [only that may be offered], and not young ones.

"young doves"
young ones [only may be offered], and not adult ones.

"from turtle-doves or from young doves"
[The word "from" occurring twice in this verse comes] to exclude [birds] whose feathers have just begun to become reddish in both species, that they are unfit [for sacrifice], for they are too old to be qualified as "young doves," and they are too young to be qualified as [adult] "turtle-doves."

Remez (hinted meaning):

Baal HaTurim: The blood service of a burnt offering of a bird is performed on the upper part of the altar corresponding to Yitzhak who is described as a "dove of silence" (R. Ibn Gevirol on (Psalms 56:1)) for he was placed on top of the altar [but did not complain.]

Derash (interpretive meaning):

...the bird offering is equally esteemed in His eyes.

Ohr HaChayim: The Torah tells us that as far as G‑d is concerned, the bird offering is equally esteemed in His eyes. We find support from Isaiah when the prophet describes G‑d as being close 'to the contrite and lowly in spirit" which our Sages interpret as "I [G‑d] descend from Heaven to be close to the contrite," or as "I elevate the contrite to my domain". It is due to such considerations that the name of G‑d is written next to the bird offering and not next to those offerings of animals. All who offer a burnt-offering of a bird is presumed to be in low spirits since he cannot afford something of greater value to G‑d. So too with a meal offering that a poor person who cannot afford to offer more is offering his whole life-soul to G‑d by means of such a low cost offering

Ramban: These two types of birds are more easily caught than others. Torah chose animals that feed at his crib, and that he need not take weapons to get them. He chose grown up turtledoves because they abstain from pairing with strangers, and attach themselves only to their mates, and once they lose their companions they never associate with another. So too Israel cleave to their G‑d, and never attach themselves to another god. Pigeons, however, are very jealous and as a result of their jealousy they part from their previous mates and take on another. G‑d chose them only when they are young before mating begins, for as long as the pigeon is young it is attached with greater love to the nest where it is reared than other birds. Our Rabbis say that if one touches the nest of all other birds to take the young ones or the eggs, they leave it and never nest there again, but the pigeon never abandons it under any circumstances. So too Israel who will never exchange their Creator and His Torah, "but either Jews or nailed to the stake." He did not choose roosters because of their inclination to lewdness.

Sod (esoteric, mystical meaning):

Rabbi Yosi said, What difference does it make whether a burnt sacrifice is of the herd, the flock or the birds? If they are the same, why are they separated from each other, seeing that they all become the same thing? He who can afford it, offers of the herd. If he cannot, of the flock; and if he cannot afford even this, of the birds. Thus, it is written, "And if he be poor, and his means do not suffice" (Lev. 14:21), for G‑d does not overload on a man that which he cannot bear.

Rabbi Elazar said, One should offer in correlation to the sin. The rich man whose heart is proud at times should offer a bullock, for his heart is more bent on sinning before his Master. An average man should bring of the flock, because his spirit is not proud enough to sin. The poor man, whose heart is not proud and whose spirit is humbler than them all, brings the slightest offering. All of their offerings are acknowledged individually, and G‑d judges each one with balanced scales
The poor man's offering is the lightest, because his heart is broken.
Come and see: The poor man's offering is the lightest, because his heart is broken. Even if he meditates on sinning, the sin passes from him because his sorrow and the sorrow of his household suffice. Therefore, each and every offering are all individually known to the priest.

There is a story of a certain rich man who brought two pigeons before the priest. When the priest saw him, he said to him: This offering is not for you. The man went home sad. His brothers said to him: Why are you sad? He said to them: The priest did not sacrifice my offering. They said to him: What was it? He said to them: Two pigeons. They said, But this is for the poor, not for you, as it is written, "If he be poor, and his means do not suffice" (Lev. 14:21). But you should bring your own offering. He said to them: What is it? They said to him: A bullock.

Come and see: The poor man's offering is of great worth before G‑d, as he brings before Him two offerings: the one is his fat and blood and the other is the sacrifice he is offering. Though he has no food for himself, he still brings an offering. The offering of the poor is the lightest, two young turtledoves or two young pigeons, or he may even bring a little flour and he is forgiven. At that time, a proclamation resounds, saying, "For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the poor." Wherefore is that? Because the offering of the poor man is the worthiest of all. For they caused me to be in the portion of G‑d, in the portion of the Torah. I therefore gave all my possessions to the poor, for they brought this on me.

As the poor man boils his fat and blood, so is the flour he brought fried with precious oil. From this we learned that everyone offers a meal offering in a pan or a deep pan offering. Just as the sin heats his fat and blood with the fire of the Evil Inclination and all his body parts are heated in the fire, so does this offering burn in the very same manner, for the essence of the offering is like sin. It behooves one to offer before G‑d the desire of his heart, spirit and soul, for He prefers it to anything else.

Happy is the portion of the righteous, who bring this offering daily before G‑d. What is it? They bring before Him themselves and their souls. I wish to bring this offering, for this is what G‑d asks of man in this world. A real offering is better, for it is that all the worlds are blessed

BeRahamim LeHayyim:
The original sliding scale, as noted by the Zohar. Here we learn about realities of the rich man, the average man, and the poor man. Are these realities true? What is true perhaps is the famous saying “G‑d does not burden a person with something he cannot bear," meaning that G‑d only tests us in ways that we can succeed. As he tested Abraham 10 times, as well as many other personages in the Jewish Bible. The question arises, what can we do to make amends when we miss the mark? What does a bullock mean? A flock offering? A bird? Or the measly meal offering? Perhaps sometimes we screw up so badly that we need to give up something of real import. Imagine what a bullock meant in the old days. Very expensive. Could feed a family for a long time. If we are going to learn anything from this verse it is that we need to be sensitive to what it takes to make things right. Sometimes it can be a simple sincere "I'm messed up. I am sorry." Other times we may need to eat some serious crow. A meaningful life means doing teshuvah the day before you die. Every day, every moment.

OK, now that we know this, whatcha gonna do?!

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