Vayikra 6:2 (Robert Alter, trans.)
This is the teaching [torah] of the burnt offering. It is the very burnt offering over its flame on the altar night till morning …
The word for burnt offering or holocaust, ‘olah, is not derived from a root that means “to burn” but rather from the verb “to go up.” which, however, is metonymically linked to burning by suggesting the idea that the whole sacrifice “goes up” in smoke. … [Fire is] the element associated with God’s fiery epiphany at Sinai and with his first appearance to Moses in the burning bush. Hence an altar with a fire that “shall not go out.”
Psalm 51:17-19 (Robert Alter, trans.)
O Master, open my lips, that my mouth may tell Your praise. For You desire not that I should give sacrifice, burnt-offering You greet not with pleasure. God’s sacrifices–a broken spirit. A broken, crushed heart God, spurns not.
Midrash Rabbah Vayikra 7:2
R’ Abba bar Yudan said: All that the Holy One, blessed is He, invalidated in regard to an offering of an animal, He validated in regard to a person. That is: He invalidated in an animal offering, one that is blind or broken or with a split eyelid or a wart — but validated in regard to a person on who has a heart broken and humbled.
R’ Alexandri said: If any commoner were to use a broken utensils, it would be considered a matter of disgrace for him. But the Holy One, blessed is He — the utensils He uses are broken, as Scripture states, Hashem is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:19); He is the Healer of the broken-hearted (Psalm 147:3) For thus said the exalted and uplifted One … “I abide in exaltedness and holiness, but I am with the despondent and lowly of spirit” (Isaiah 57:15) The sacrifices God desires are a broken spirit, a heart broken and humbled, O God, You will not despise (Psalms 51:19).
Vayikra 7:11-12 (Robert Alter, trans.)
And this is the teaching of the communion sacrifice [peace-offering] that is brought forward to the LORD. If in thanksgiving [todah, confession, praise, thanksgiving] he brings it forward, he shall bring forward with the thanksgiving sacrifice flatcakes mixed in oil and flatcake wafers coated with oil and cakes of semolina soaked through mixed in oil.
Psalm 50:23 (Robert Alter, trans.)
He who sacrifices thanksgiving reveres Me and set out on the proper way [vesham derech]. I will show him God’s rescue.
Midrash Rabbah Vayikra 9:3
R’ Yannai said: “vesham” is written so that the verse may be interpreted to mean, one who appraises his ways has tremendous value.
There was once an incident involving R’ Yannai, who was traveling on the way when he saw a certain man who was elegant in the extreme. [The man’s dress led R’ Yannai to assume he was a Torah scholar.] [R. Yannai] said to him, “Please give heed to me, my master, and be accepted as a guest to eat with us. [The man] said to him, “Yes.” So R. Yannai brought him into his house, fed him, and gave him drink. [R. Yannai] tested his guest in Scripture and he did not find him to be knowledgeable; he tested him in Mishnah and he did not find him to be knowledgeable; he tested him in Aggadah and he did not find him to be knowledgeble, he tested him in Talmud and he did not find him to be knowledgeable. [R. Yannai] said to him, “Take a cup of wine and recite Birkat HaMazon.” [The man] said to him, “Let Yannai recite Birkat HaMazon in his own house.” [R. Yannai] then asked him, “Are you able to repeat after me what I say to you?” [The man] said to him, “Yes, I am.” [R. Yannai] said to him, “Say as follows: ‘The dog ate the bread of Yannai.'” [The man] arose, grabbed R. Yannai, held him firmly, and said to him, “My inheritance is your possession, for you are withholding it from me!” R. Yannai asked him, “And what inheritance of yours is in my possession?” The man said to him, “One time, I was passing by a school, and I heard the voices of children saying, “The Torah that Moses commanded us is the inheritance of the Congregation of Jacob’. — now, the inheritance of the Congregation of Yannai is not written here, rather the inheritance of the Congregation of Jacob!”
After conceding that his guest’s rebuke was warranted, R. Yannai asked him, “Why have you merited to eat at my table?” The guest answered him, “In all my days, I have never heard a bad word spoken and reported it back to the person being spoken of; and I have never see two people quarreling with each other and not made peace between them.”
R. Yannai said to him respectfully, “There exists within you such a large degree of derech eretz and yet I called you a dog!” R. Yannai applied to his guest the following verse, “vesam” the way, I will show him the salvation of God, which may be interpreted to mean, one who appraises his ways has enormous value.
For R. Yishmael bar Rav Nachman said: Derech eretz preceded the Torah by twenty-six generations. Thus it is written, to guard the way to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:24). The way — this is an allusion to derech eretz — and only afterward, the Tree of Life — this is an allusion to Torah.