Every animal sacrifice offered in the Holy Temple was accompanied by a modest wine libation. A key distinction between the animal offering and the libation is that animals procreate naturally, without human intervention, whereas nature does not plant seeds, tend vines, harvest grapes, press juice and ferment wine; that is accomplished by human hand.

Indeed, there are two forms of blessings; those provided by G‑d's universe, such as water and air, and those we earn by the sweat of our brow and the toil of our hands, such as our livelihood and our homes. These two forms of blessings are represented respectively by the animal offering and the wine libation. In their combined offering, we convey our gratitude for both forms of blessing.

In our heart of hearts we recognize that human effort, but for the grace of G‑d, cannot ensure successFurther analysis yields an even deeper perspective. When you think about it you realize that not all blessings fall neatly into one of the above categories; most blessings are a combination of the two. While there are blessings that are wholly provided by G‑d, there is no blessing that is wholly provided by human labor. In our heart of hearts we recognize that human effort, but for the grace of G‑d, cannot ensure success. In the words of King David, "If G‑d does not guard the city, the guardian labors in vain."

You might accept a compliment for having baked a particularly delicious cake, yet in your heart you know that you baked this cake many times in exactly the same way and have no idea why this cake tastes so much better than all the others. As a salesperson you might accept a compliment from your boss for a particularly good month of sales. Yet you know that you made the same effort the month before and were not as successful. It was just that this month you happened to meet all the right people at all the right times. We can make all the right efforts and do all the right things, but ultimately our success depends on factors beyond our control.

When our ancestors offered a combination of animal and wine they acknowledged that every blessing is a combination of human effort and Divine blessing. Note, however, that the measure of the wine was always smaller than the size of the animal. This is because they attributed more credit to G‑d for their success than they took for themselves; they knew that their success was in small part due to their effort, but in large part due to G‑d. They viewed their efforts as an integral part of their success, which is why they offered a libation of wine, but they understood that the role of their effort was merely to channel the Divine blessing.

This is a message we too can adopt. When we inherit an unexpected windfall or win a lottery we often attribute our good fortune to G‑d. But when we bring home a paycheck, raise happy, healthy and well-adjusted children, we often take credit for it ourselves. Indeed, the latter is produced by our effort whereas the former is wholly provided by G‑d. But let us keep our own efforts in perspective. Let us remember how large was the size of the animal and how small the size of the libation.1