In evaluating the purpose of the sacrifices, the following two explanations arise: either the purpose of the sacrifices was to satisfy the needs of the people or of God.
R’ Ishmael takes the phrase rei’ach nicho’ach, “a pleasant fragrance” — which shows up 4 times in this week’s parsha (Leviticus 6:8, 6:14, 8:21, 8:28) and 8 times in last week’s (Leviticus 1:9, 1:13, 1:17, 2:2, 2:9, 2:12, 3:5, 3:16) — to refer to something spiritual, for God has neither nose nor sense of smell nor the desire to experience one olfactory experience over another, such that one can be said to be pleasant to the exclusion of others less pleasant. In other words, the entire thing makes no sense if one describes a divine experience it in human terms and takes it to mean something similar to a human experience — it was written in this poetic and quaint fashion because we are mortal and that’s how mortals seem to experience it.
R’ Akiva balks at this allegorization and took it literally. As explained by the Mechilta of R’ Shimon bar Yochai (his star pupil), the one true God is superior to the fake gods of the idolators.
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