Incense
Incenseצילום: ISTOCK

Rabbi Yisrael Wende is Former Rosh Kollel in Memphis, currently Rav Kehilla in Ma'ale Adumim


Torah MiTzion stands in the forefront of the battle for the future of the Jewish people in the Diaspora, offering religious-Zionist Torah scholarship to Jewish communities throughout the world and strengthening the bond between the Jewish people in the Diaspora and in Israel via the study of Torah.

Israelis and especially Israeli kids are known to like Milkey, a chocolate pudding with whipped cream on top. Most people like the whipped cream more than the pudding, a simple detail that leads to three different ways of eating the Milkey. Some will start from the top, with the whipped cream. Others will mix the pudding with the whipped cream. The ones who are really serious about leaving the best to the end, will dig into the pudding, eat under the whipped cream and save it to the end.

While we might smile when we see kids eating a Milkey, it can explain the order in our Parasha, Tezaveh. Last week we started reading about the Mishkan, the tabernacle and the holy vessels. The first vessel mentioned is the Holy Ark. we read about the Menorah, the table, the copper altar and the Mishkan itself. This week we read about the clothes of the Cohanim and the coronation ceremony.

At the end of the Parasha, the Torah goes back to the vessels and teaches about the golden altar. Why wasn't the golden altar placed with all of the other vessels in last week’s Parasha? Why does the Torah place the golden altar at the end of the commandments of building the Mishkan?

The golden altar was used for burning incense every day, morning and evening. This altar seems to combine all of the other holy vessels. It is an altar, like the big copper altar, the incense was burned at the same time that the Menorah was kindled and it was made out of wood coated with gold, like the table and the Holy Ark.

The incense was burned every day, like most of the vessels that were used on a regular basis. Yet, once a year Aharon or the Cohen Gadoll performed purification upon its horns. Once a year, on Yom Kippur, the same day when the Cohen Gadol came into the Holy of Holies to place the incense in front of the Holy Ark.

The work on the golden altar, burning the incense was done in the Mishkan. Hidden from the eyes of the nation. The fragrance spreaded in all of the camp and everyone could feel the fragrance coming from inside the Mishkan.

The golden altar is not just the best part that is saved for the end, it is much more, it is a vessel of connection, combining all of the other vessels and connecting between the inner part of the Mishkan and the whole nation. The Zohar explains the Ketoret, Incense, comes from the idea of tying, creating a bond between us and Hashem.

How do we create this connection between us and Hashem? We create a connection between all of the vessels, we try to strengthen the connection of our nation, the bond between people and Torah, the Belonging to the nation and the land. Doing this, ties us to the divine presence. To the golden altar.

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