Sacrifices and Self Control
Vayikra (Leviticus 1-5 )
One of the more difficult concepts in the Torah is the idea of a sacrifice. So much of the Torah revolves around it, even describing the smell of the sacrifices as "a pleasing aroma to God" (Lev. 1:9).
In reality, any time we struggle with our character and perform an act of graciousness, kindness, or patience, we've made a sacrifice - a sacrifice of the highest caliber. We have overcome our tendency and inclination to take the comfortable and selfish path in life. That, really, is what sacrifices are all about: changing ourselves and growing.
The same Torah that teaches us that the world stands in the merit of sacrifices also teaches us that the world stands in the merit of one who can remain silent in an argument. The inner strength and self-control we exhibit when we do what's right and don't allow our ego to get in the way are what can make our lives meaningful. Sacrifices and self-control are the same thing -- they show that we understand what's really important in life, and that our relationships with those around us are more important than getting our way. That's why so much of the Torah revolves around sacrifices: we're surrounded by the opportunity to make such a "sacrifice" every day.
Most importantly, if we realize how much is achieved through such self-control, we'll see that it never was a sacrifice at all, but an opportunity to get out of our pettiness and achieve real greatness.