Mincha — Gift of a Gift
The second chapter of Vayikra discusses the mincha offerings, the offerings comprised of flour and oil. When the word mincha appears in other contexts it generally refers to a gift, by which the giver recognizes the recipient as the master of his fate. Through the mincha, the giver expresses his dependence on the recipient of the gift and submits to his authority. For example, when Jacob sends a peace offering to Eisav in advance of his encounter, it is referred to as a mincha.
The laws of the mincha offering open: “A nefesh who would bring near a mincha offering to
The mincha contained flour and oil in particular measurements, along withfrankincense. Flour, the main ingredient, symbolizes sustenance. The meaning of flour offered at a mincha as a sign of homage is this: the condition for our existence is in the Hands of the One to Whom the mincha is offered.
The oil added to the flour created a rich oil bread. The pleasant and fragrant frankincense was added afterwards, as a separate ingredient to add an element of satisfaction. Just as satisfaction is its own blessing and does not necessarily follow from sustenance or even richness, the frankincense was an independent part of the offering.
The mincha is the single offering that could not be brought jointly — only one nefesh, a single soul, could offer a mincha. The animal offerings, which represent the task of man, could be brought jointly — many people can find joint expression in a single offering, in a common task. But the mincha, which represents sustenance, prosperity and satisfaction, is an individual offering.
In recognition of these gifts, we return a ‘gift’ and express that the possessions are really the property of the Receiver. From His Hand were they extended to us, and by His Will do they remain on loan. With this acknowledgement we are prepared to use these possessions in His service.
§ Sources: Commentary, Vayikra 2:1