Parshat Vayikra discusses the “Oleh v’Yored” offering – literally the “up-and-down” offering – so called because it had three levels, based on one’s financial ability: A wealthy person would bring a cow; a middle-class person brings a bird; and a poor person brings an offering of flour.

In fact, a wealthy person was not allowed to bring a lesser-quality offering. We see from here that God does not judge everyone by the same standards. Someone who has a greater natural ability is expected to do more. For why else would God have given him those resources?!

On the flip side, a poor person was not allowed to bring an expensive offering. This teaches that while we strive to improve, we must be sensitive to our own limitations, and not pressure ourselves unrealistically.

To highlight this idea, Leviticus 2:1 describes someone who brings a flour offering as a “soul.” The Talmud explains that though the flour offering may be inexpensive, for the poor person it is quite significant – and God considers it as if he gave his very soul!

We must never look askance at another person’s achievements, however small they may appear. Because whatever level we’re on, God only expects us to be … the best that we can be.