I cherish the mitzvah of performing a bris and will generally accept any opportunity, whenever and wherever possible, to act as a mohel.

One time, however, early in my career, I was faced with a moral dilemma. I had just been called by a new father and agreed to do his son’s bris when almost immediately, another set of parents called and wanted to book their newborn son’s circumcision for the same day, at the same time.

Usually, these things can be easily arranged. With good will on both sides, we can push one bris a bit earlier and the other a bit later, allowing me to go from oneI was faced with a moral dilemma ceremony to the next. But in this case, the first baby’s parents lived out of state, and there was no possible way to get there and back in time to do both.

The easy answer? First come, first served. However, the remote couple lived in a town with no Jewish infrastructure or access to a minyan, and were thus planning a tiny bris. The local set of parents had a huge family and a massive social circle, with the likely exposure that would have been very important to me at that stage of my career.

It would have been so easy to call back the first father and cancel, but I knew it would be almost impossible for him to find another mohel who could get there on the eighth day, whereas the family who lived in Melbourne could find a replacement easily enough.

But is that my problem? Either way, I’d be doing the mitzvah of bris. It’s just that one of them happened to be much closer to home, more financially rewarding, and promised far greater profile and publicity as a reward.

In the end, after much soul-searching, I traveled interstate to the people who booked me first and found a locum for the society bris. It wasn’t easy, but it was the right thing to do.

Looking back, it seems ridiculous that I wrestled so long over making up my mind, or that it meant so much to me at the time, but those few days were an agony of indecision. I remember asking the advice of a veteran mohel who advised me to do the right thing and not just take the more attractive option. In retrospect, I’m glad I went.

Other times, similar quandaries have come up, and I’ve been less satisfied with the decisions I made. But that one time, at least, I believe I did the right thing.

I’m positive that everyone reading this would have gone through similar struggles in their own lives or careers, and we all win some and lose some on the merry-go-round of morality. We talk the talk easily enough, but walking the walk is far harder. Imagine if there was a way to recognize in advance the correct path to take. It would be so much easier if we had automatic mechanism to know the right thing to do.

Perhaps the struggle is reflected in a fascinating concept in this week’s parshah. There were a number of sacrifices offered in the Holy Temple, both communal andWe talk the talk easily enough, but walking the walk is far harder individual: sin offerings and thanksgiving offerings, private gifts to G‑d and collective korbanot paid for by the public purse.

There was a set of sacrifices made for Shabbat, while others would signify holidays, Rosh Chodesh, etc. The most common sacrifice of all—the “basic offering,” as it were—was the tamid, the daily sacrifice offered every morning and afternoon.

The Rebbe pointed out that this tamid was an olah, a fully burnt offering. Unlike other types of sacrifices, where parts of the animal were given to the owners or Kohanim to enjoy, the entire olah was placed on the altar and consumed by fire.

An olah was nothing but sacrifice. It was a complete gift to G‑d, with no personal pleasure or payoff left for the principals involved.

We all make the right noises about doing the right thing, for the right reasons, but it is hard—really hard—to know if we’re serving G‑d or serving ourselves. The reason we struggle with moral dilemmas of the sort I described above is because the lure of self-promotion and financial benefit complicates our ability to distinguish the right option from the pleasurable option—what we want to do from what we know we should do.

The only way to truly know right from wrong is to remove ourselves from the equation. If there was nothing in it for me, what would I do then? If I wasn’t getting paid, would I still do what I’m doing? If there was no fame or fortune in prospect,In retrospect, I'm glad I went would I still advance on my professed goal? Do I do what I’m doing for myself or for G‑d?

The secret of the olah is that sometimes, you’ve got to give up everything for the cause, and then you’ll know that your daily sacrifice is really an offering to G‑d.