The Torah says in Vayikra how sacrifices work:
וְהִקְטִיר הַכֹּהֵן אֶת הַכֹּל הַמִּזְבֵּחָה עֹלָה אִשֵּׁה רֵיחַ נִיחוֹחַ לה – The Kohen will offer the animal in smoke on the altar, a burnt offering, with a pleasant aroma to the Lord. (1:9)
Rashi explains that Hashem instructs us to perform this mitzva, and when we carry it out, this generates “a pleasant aroma” (lit. שאמרתי ונעשה רצוני – “That I said, and they did as I wished”).
But all mitzvos are Hashem’s Will – the word “mitzva” is a construct of the word “command”. Do all mitzvos have this formula resulting in “a pleasant aroma”? What is it about sacrifices that distinguishes them?
More to the point, the sacrifice under discussion is not actually commanded at all – it is voluntary! If the formula resulting in a pleasant aroma requires doing as Hashem commands, why would a voluntary sacrifice generate this result at all? There are other examples of this – when Noah offered sacrifices after the Flood, his offerings were called רֵיחַ נִיחוֹחַ לה, yet he wasn’t commanded to bring sacrifices either.
Tangentially; why is the formula for the pleasant aroma inconsistent? It ought to say שרציתי ונעשה רצוני or שאמרתי ונעשה אמרי – “I wanted and My will was done” or “I spoke and what I said was done”. What is the implication of the change?
To understand what the pleasant aroma is, we need to explore the nature of the Will – the רצון. Every morning, women recite the blessing “שעשני כרצונו – who made me according to His will”. But everything exists because G-d wants it to – God perpetually sustains existence just by willing it. R’ Tzadok Hakohen points out that the words for “thing” in Hebrew – דבר and חפץ – translate as “say” and “desire” respectively – in Hebrew, things reflect their essence; in this instance things exist because Hashem desires them to and because He says so.
The Taz explains that this blessing praises the positive aspects of being a woman. But what specific aspects of being a woman is the blessing referencing as being more “virtuous” than other aspects of being a woman?
R’ Moshe Shapiro tells us that from the Patriarchs, we have חסד, אמת, וגבורה – characteristics highly influential in Judaism. But what of their wives?
Sarah saw that her son was being negatively influenced by Yishmael, and she insisted that her husband send Yishmael and his mother back to the land she came from. Rivka was weary of Esav, and made sure that he did not receive the blessings from Isaac, and assisted Yakov in getting them instead. Rachel and Leah both told Yakov it was time to return to Israel after years in Lavan’s house.
The consistent theme is that the women stand up for the way things ought to be.
We see this when Hashem created the first woman: וַיֹּאמֶרְ הֹ’ אֱלֹהִים לֹא טוֹב הֱיוֹת הָאָדָם לְבַדּוֹ אֶעֱשֶׂה לּוֹ עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ – And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man is alone; I will make him a helpmate opposite him.”
Rashi explains the dual meaning of עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ. If her husband is righteous, he will find her to be an עֵזֶר – a helper. If he is evil, she will be כְּנֶגְדּוֹ – opposite him, to return him to justice.
This means that Eve was created to prevent a state of things not being good, ie the way they ought to be.
If Adam had no significant other, it could could be said G-d was not the only unique being, Adam was also one of a kind! So he needed a mate to demonstrate he was “human”; so tongue in cheek, but literally, our wives remind us we are not G-d! The Chiddushei Harim writes that the only two un-bluff-ables are G-d, and one’s wife.
The Creation was God’s Will being actualised, culminating in the Torah being given to mankind. The supervisors for the job are women; created to preserve His רצון, literally, שעשני כרצונו , “I was created to preserve His will”.
Since this is what רצון means, it is clear how the formula for the pleasant aroma is ונעשה רצוני. G-d created the world by saying it should be. By doing His will, the world becomes a place to serve Hashem – מקום עבודת ה. This is the purpose of Creation, to draw creation closer to Creator. But this implies that only by bringing sacrifices can we say it is a pleasing fragrance to Hashem, as the only thing called עבודה is the Korbanos! This explains why a voluntary sacrifice is also included, and therefore Noah’s too!