When Yaakov gave his brother Eisav a gift (Parshas Vayishlach), he gave him something outstanding and ostentatious. It seems that Yaakov really knew how to impress somebody and bring about results with a good gift. The Torah even relates to us that Eisav was moved with the present that he received. If this is so, there is an observation that needs clarity. When Yaakov sent to the Egyptian Viceroy (otherwise known as Yosef/Tsafnas Paneach) a gift, he sent him “m’at tzori um’at devash” (a bit of balsam, and a bit of honey Ber. 43:11) – a very modest gift. We know he knew how to be a giver. Why then when he son’s life depended upon a gift did he give something that almost seemed miserly.
The Sforno answers this question with an insight into human nature. There are some people whom he calls “nival lehone“ – people who are running after wealth. For those people, quantity is more important than quality. They are exemplified in Eisav, and the best gift to give those people is something which is BIG in quantity or size. The Torah even mentions that there was a time lapse between each group of animals of Yaakov’s gift, in order to whet Eisav’s appetite for more. On the other hand, the Viceroy of Egypt (Yosef) who was known as the “dispenser for the benefit of others” and was called “hanadiv” (generous). For such people forethought and foresight are more important than greatness in numbers. To such people, the proper gift is a small, but exceptional item. Something found only amongst aristocracy. The symbol of quality is appealing to such people. Therefore, he sent to the Viceroy devash and tzori – high-quality items.
One of the most discussed questions of Chanukah is why did the Maccabees bother to wait for the pure oil to be pressed – why didn’t they just use whatever oil was available? The answer is that this is symbolic – not just to them but also to us: What is important is not just the “doing of a mitzvah”, but also the quality and forethought the mitzvah carries with it. The Maccabees understood that the aspects of tahara and ruchnius were of more importance than the aspect of performing the mitzvah as quickly as possible. The lesson that has been passed down from that very first Chanukah and onward is to be mehadrin min hamehadrin – to think about not just a way to serve Ha Kadosh Baruch Hu, but a high-quality way to serve Ha Kadosh Baruch Hu.