The priestly class is not allotted land with the rest of Israel and therefore relies on donations for their livelihood. As God continues Her sacrificial instructions, He declares that an aspect of the priests’ welfare shall come from sacrifices. The passuk says,
“כַּֽחַטָּאת֙ כָּֽאָשָׁ֔ם תּוֹרָ֥ה אַחַ֖ת לָהֶ֑ם הַכֹּהֵ֛ן אֲשֶׁ֥ר יְכַפֶּר־בּ֖וֹ ל֥וֹ יִהְיֶֽה׃”
“Like the sin offering so too with the guilt offering – one law for them both: it shall belong to the priest who makes the atonement” (Vayikra 7:7). In other words, the priest who brings a person’s sin or shame sacrifice gets to keep a portion of the meat for themselves.
In contrast to atonements for shame or sin, the priest who helps bring a burnt offering receives the hide of the animal as payment (Vayikra 7:8).
Plainly read, the priests obtain monetary compensation for their work. They act as an intermediary between the people and God and are so sustained in life.
The midrash, however, provides a different understanding. Commenting on the creation story, Rebbe Meir reads the word Or not as skin, but as its homophone – light. Looking through this lens, the reward for a priest who helps bring a burnt offering is not monetary at all, but a share of Divine light.
In other words, when we help another find and let out their God given light, we shine brighter.
A burnt offering is a a free will gift. It is a pure act showing our love and desire to be in relationship with God. When a priest helps another atone for a sin, he receive his payment, but when he aids in an act of love, everyone shines brighter.
As we enter into Shabbat, I hope we can all bring this lesson into our lives. With Passover around the corner, I pray we find the opportunity to let another offer their helping hand, and in so doing let the Divine light free.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach.