This Torah reading contains the verse: “This is the law of the burnt offering... [It shall remain on] the altar’s hearth throughout the night.” Rashi explains that the verse teaches that although the sacrifices had to be offered during the day, burning the fats and limbs of the sacrifices was permitted throughout the night. Nevertheless, although license to burn the fats at night was granted, the mitzvahof burning the sacrificial fats applied primarily during the day. The burning of fats at night was only to compensate for not burning them earlier.

Fat is an analogy for satisfaction. We are commanded: “All the fat [should be offered] to G‑d,” implying that a person must offer his powers of pleasure and satisfaction to G‑dliness. This includes “the fats of the sacrifice,” the satisfaction he receives from drawing close to G‑d. One might think that the need to sublimate and sacrifice pleasure refers only to the pleasure derived from material things. Seemingly, what could be wrong with deriving pleasure from the observance of mitzvosand other holy matters?

In resolution: True, one should feel energy and vitality in the observance of the mitzvos, observing them not simply out of compulsion, but out of a genuine love for G‑d. The fact that one is able to fulfill G‑d’s will should be the greatest source of pleasure. Nevertheless, care must be taken to ensure that one takes pleasure in fulfilling G‑d’s will and not from the self-satisfying dimensions of the observanceof mitzvos. For example, a person may feel good because he performed a mitzvah; he may be happy that he helped another person. His self-image is enhanced. That is a positive feeling, but it is the person’s own feeling.

In truth, we should be happy that we performed a mitzvah, because this is G‑d’s will and because His desire has been carried out. From this perspective, it doesn’t matter who performed the mitzvah. It could have been performed by another person as well. The reason for one’s happiness is that G‑d’s will has been fulfilled, not that he fulfilled it.

On this basis, we can understand the concept stated previously: that the mitzvah of burning the fats applies primarily during the day and burning them at night is merely compensation. With regard to our Divine service, “day” refers to the times when we are occupied with the study of Torah and the observance of mitzvos, as reflected in the analogy: “A mitzvahis a candle, and the Torah, light.” Night and darkness, by contrast, represent times when a person is not occupied with the Torah or its mitzvos, but rather occupied with material concerns.

The lesson about dedicating the fat — our potential for pleasure and satisfaction — to G‑d applies primarily during the day. When it comes to material things, it is obvious that a person should not seek his own pleasure, but should perform “[all his deeds] for the sake of heaven.” When it comes to the Torah and its mitzvos, however, it is possible that a person might feel that his motives are not important; as long as he studies the Torah and performs its mitzvos, it’s okay. And he will rationalize his behavior quoting our Sages: “A person should always occupy himself in the Torah and its mitzvos... [even] for a selfish intent.” Such a person has to be taught: The fats must first be offered on the altar. Even one’s spiritual pleasure must be devoted to G‑d.

Looking to the Horizon

There is an allusion to the Ultimate Redemption in the verse “Do not allow the fat of the festive offering to remain until the morning.” Implied is that burning the fats on the altar, dedicating one’s pleasure to G‑d will be a catalyst for “the morning” — the ultimate dawn, the era when “the sun will no longer serve you for the light of day.... Instead, G‑d will be your eternal light.” By devoting our capacity for pleasure to G‑d, we enable Divine pleasure and satisfaction to flourish in the era of Mashiach.