וַיִּקְרָא אֶל מֹשֶׁה וכו' אָדָם כִּי יַקְרִיב מִכֶּם קָרְבָּן לַה' מִן הַבְּהֵמָה מִן הַבָּקָר וּמִן הַצֹּאן תַּקְרִיבוּ אֶת קָרְבַּנְכֶם
And the Lord called to Moses . . . Speak to the people of Israel, and say to them, If any man brings of you an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of the cattle, of the herd, and of the flock. (Leviticus 1:1-2)
It is written in the Midrash Rabbah (Leviticus 2:1) "If any man of you brings an offering to the Lord." This has a bearing on the Scriptural verse (Jeremiah 31:19), "Is Ephraim My dear son? Is he a darling child? For whenever I speak of him, I do remember him still" (הֲבֵן יַקִּיר לִי אֶפְרַיִם, אִם יֶלֶד שַׁעֲשֻׁעִים--כִּי-מִדֵּי דַבְּרִי בּוֹ, זָכֹר אֶזְכְּרֶנּוּ). "Is Ephraim My dear son?" which means, I set a great price upon Israel. It usually happens that out of a thousand who enter upon the study of Scripture, a hundred are successful. Out of this hundred who proceed to the study of Mishnah, ten are successful. Out of these ten, who proceed to the study of Talmud, one emerges [who is fitted to give legal decisions]. This is indicated by what is written (Ecclesiastes 7:28) "One man among a thousand have I found" (אָדָם אֶחָד מֵאֶלֶף מָצָאתִי).
And it appears to our master that the Midrash is explaining a difficulty in the Scripture, because one could ask why the Scripture inserted the word "מִכֶּם" (of you) after the verb "יַקְרִיב" (i.e., "if any man brings of you an offering") instead of inserting "מִכֶּם" after "אָדָם" (any man) where it would seem to have belonged (i.e., "if any man of you brings an offering"). Furthermore, why does the Scripture first say "קָרְבָּן לַה'" (an offering to the Lord) and immediately afterwards refer to it as "קָרְבַּנְכֶם" (your offering)? That is why the Midrash explains that the Torah wanted to show us here at the very beginning of the book of Leviticus (i.e., Torat Kohanim, the law of the Priests) that the Eternal does not desire burnt offerings and sacrifices, but asks from us only to love Him and to study His Torah, which is the gift of the King of the Universe and the object of His longing, more precious than cattle and sheep, not even all the produce of the Bashan can be compared to it. Thus the Sages in the Talmud say that the Holy One Blessed Be He has no place in this world except in the four cubits of the law (אין לו להקב"ה בעולמו אלא ד' אמות של הלכה). The Eternal therefore prefers acts of justice and charity to all the rams of Nevayot and all the sheep of Keidar that could be sacrificed before Him.
It is therefore one who exhausts himself (meimit atzmo) in the tent of the Torah - having sacrificed his soul to the Eternal in order to love Him and to cling to Him, because his desire is the Torah of the Eternal which he studies by day and by night - that is the holy object that the Eternal will draw close to Him. And that man could be anyone. However, the Eternal gave to us the law of the priesthood - those who bring the animal offerings and the meal-offerings - only because our ancestors despised study and wanted only to serve Him with their actions by sacrificing burnt offerings not with their minds and souls. (See divrei torah on parshiot T'rumah and Ki Tisa)
This is the meaning of the verse "if any man brings of you an offering to the Lord." For how else ought a person offer up his soul if not by studying how to conduct himself? This is truly an offering to the Lord (קָרְבָּן לַה'). This is what the Midrash meant when it said: "this has a bearing on the verse 'Is Ephraim My dear son?'" Nothing is so precious in the eyes of the Eternal as a Torah scholar - who is referred to as Ephraim. For of a thousand that begin the study of the Scripture, only one will successfully complete the study of Talmud.
And there is a further hint to this from the word "mi-kem" whose numerical value is 100. At Sinai, Israel heard the Scripture, which is the Written Law, which was given to them there. But the Oral Law, the Mishnah and the Talmud, which explain the Torah and its reasons, was transmitted to them in the Tent of Meeting (אוהל מועד). So from every thousand that heard the Scripture at Sinai, only one hundred entered into the Tent of Assembly, and only one of them successfully completed the study of Talmud. That is what is meant by "אָדָם כִּי יַקְרִיב מִכֶּם" (i.e., a man that shall come forward from among you) - from among the one hundred who entered into the study of the Oral Law in the Tent of Meeting, only one successfully completed his study to become the offering to the Lord (קָרְבָּן לַה'), the beloved son (הֲבֵן יַקִּיר) out of the one hundred that began the study of Mishnah.
וְהִקְרִיב מִן הַתֹּרִים אוֹ מִן בְּנֵי הַיּוֹנָה
Then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons. (Leviticus 1:14)
Rashi comments: The word "מִן" ("from" or "of") excludes birds of either type in the first stage of their plumage becoming golden-colored. For this stage makes the bird unfit for sacrifice, since such a bird is a grown-up in the case of בְּנֵי יּוֹנָה (young pigeons) but a young one in the case of תֹּרִים (turtledoves).
From these words of Rashi it appears that turtledoves and young pigeons are two distinct species. And this is in fact the case, as it is proved in Hulin 22b. And our master is greatly perplexed by the words of Rashi there s.v. "אלא אי אמרת" which seem to imply that turtledoves and young pigeons are a single species. (See /Dor Revi'i/ 38a-b.) And there is no master or son of a master who can solve this. And it requires great study.
נֶפֶשׁ כִּי תֶחֱטָא וּמָעֲלָה מַעַל בַּה' וְכִחֵשׁ בַּעֲמִיתוֹ וכו' עַל אַחַת מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה הָאָדָם לַחֲטֹא בָהֵנָּה
If a soul sins, and commits a trespass against the Lord and lies to his neighbor in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or has deceived his neighbor; Or have found that which was lost, and lies concerning it, and swears falsely; in any of all these that a man does, sinning in it. (Leviticus 5:21-22)
See in Rashi what R. Akiva deduced from the words "מָעֲלָה מַעַל" (commits a trespass): R. Akiva said, What is the force of "וּמָעֲלָה מַעַל בַּה'" ("commits a trespass against the Lord") here, where it does not speak of betraying "קָדְשֵׁיה'" ("holy things of the Lord") as above in Leviticus 5:15 ("If a soul commits a trespass and sins through ignorance, in the holy things of the Lord"), but of betraying one's neighbor? Because whoever lends or borrows money or does business with another, does it as a rule only in the presence of witnesses or by a document, therefore, when he repudiates the matter, he repudiates the witness or the document; but one who deposits something with his neighbor does not wish any living soul to know about it except the Third Being (G-d) Who is between them; therefore when he repudiates the deposit, he is repudiating the Third Being Who is between them (Siphra).
And our master says that R. Akiva taught us a great lesson with this comment, because the Maskilim, wishing to throw off the yoke of the Torah from upon their necks, say that every person should act justly toward his friend and perform deeds of charity and kindness. For that alone is what the Eternal has commanded mankind. But the Eternal does not count against us those transgressions that pertain only to G-d, but entail no injury to one's fellow man. For what does it matter to the Holy One Blessed Be He if we slaughter an animal across its throat or across its neck? If we violate those commandments, how does it hurt Him, and if we observe them, how does it benefit Him? However, their hearts are foolish and their vision confused, for if they were truly wise they would understand that all these commandments are included in the Covenant that the Eternal made between Himself and us: what we may eat and what we may not eat, the forbidden relationships, the Sabbath, the Festivals, and the like. These commandments lead a person safely on his path and such conduct will strengthen him to become a lover of charity and justice. The commandments create within the soul of a person lofty and honorable traits; they annihilate from within him jealousy and unworthy desire; they lead one to desist from anger and to abandon resentment. As our master has explained at length in another place (פרשת קדושים) in commenting on the words that Hillel the Prince spoke to the proselyte: "'Love your neighbor as yourself' is the great principle of the Torah and everything else is commentary, go and study,"if a person does not learn to fulfill without exception all the commandments between man and the Omnipresent (מצות בין אדם למקום), he will never reach the level of loving another person as himself. And this is what the Torah is alluding to when the Scripture writes: "If any one sins, and commits a trespass against the Eternal" (נֶפֶשׁ כִּי תֶחֱטָא וּמָעֲלָה מַעַל בַּה׳). If a person sins against the Eternal, then you know that he would also deal falsely with his neighbor in a matter of deposit, or of pledge, or of robbery, or have oppressed his neighbor" (וְכִחֶשׁ בָּהּ וְנִשְׁבַּע עַל שָׁקֶר עַל אַחַת מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה הָאָדָם לַחֲטֹא בָהֵנָּה).