“On that day it shall be eaten; do not leave over any of it until the morning; I am HaShem.” [Ex. 12:26-27]
The law regarding a Thanksgiving sacrifice (Korban Todah) was that it had to be eaten immediately, by midnight the evening after it was offered. The Oznaim L’Torah tells us that we should be surprised by this regulation.
The Thanksgiving sacrifice was a type of Peace offering (Korban Shelamim). These were of lesser sanctity then the Elevation (Olah) and similar offerings, and were permitted to be eaten for “two days and one night” — the day it was offered, the following evening, and the following day until nightfall. The Thanksgiving offering, on the other hand, was to be consumed before midnight of the first evening. And furthermore, the Thanksgiving offering was accompanied by forty (yes, 40) loaves of bread, which were also to be eaten within the same period of time. What was the reason for this? Why did the Torah insist that all this food be consumed so quickly?
The Oznaim L’Torah offers the following possible explanation. A person offered a Thanksgiving sacrifice in response to a miracle. The purpose of the Thanksgiving sacrifice was, of course, to offer thanks to G-d, specifically in response to that special kindness which G-d had shown the person, who then felt the motivation to bring this offering. Through publicizing such kindness, G-d’s Name is sanctified. This being the case, it was appropriate for the Thanksgiving offering to be public knowledge, to be shared with a large group of people. As the verse says in Psalm 107:31, “they will give thanks to G-d for his kindness and his wonders to people, and elevate Him in a gathering of the Nation, and in a convocation of Elders they will praise Him.” And in order that the “Master of the Miracle” would invite all of his relatives and friends to this Thanksgiving meal, the Torah ruled that it must be consumed within a single day — making it incumbent upon the person to publicize the miracle and invite many people.
It was all about sharing. When a miracle or wonderful event happened for a person, that good fortune was meant to be shared. It was to be used to strengthen others.
Unfortunately, today we hear too often about people who “abandon” their old friends and loved ones when they become wealthy. This is the very opposite of the grace and gratitude which the Torah desires from a person. The Torah expects us to recognize that good fortune, along with everything else, is granted by G-d.
Rabbi Yaakov Menken