Here in Israel, part of the Yom Ha’atzmaut experience is olfactory, with the smells of the traditional “mangal” filling the air. You don’t need to be too much of a meat-eater to enjoy the smell. But is that what God enjoys about our korbanot? The first divine reaction we find to the korbanot seems to suggest that it is-they are a “pleasing scent”.
Chapter two complicates the picture. Focusing on the poor man’s offering, the Torah again uses the phrase a “pleasing scent”. But it’s talking about fried dough! Admittedly, I like the smell of doughnuts, and one could suggest that God does too, but it’s certainly a far cry from the primal pleasure we derive from the smell of cooking meat.
Rashi suggests a more ephemeral understanding of the term. “Nichoach” means nachat ruach, a tranquility of spirit that “I said, and my will was done”.
Before you cast this in terms of total obedient submission to God’s whims, however, it’s important to take note of the insistence of these last two chapters on our choice and free will. The decision to bring a sacrifice is a choice, and what is brought presents another opportunity for individual expression. All this must be “lerotzono”, according to the person’s will.So it’s not quite the smell of submission God enjoys. It’s the sweet smell, not of a good barbecue, but of good old yiddishe naches, that His children have found their own unique way to make His will their own.