The Holiness of the Israelites

And he should take out the ash to the outside of the camp. (6:4)

HaRav Avigdor Miller zts"l

Judaism HaRav Avigdor Miller zts"l
HaRav Avigdor Miller zts"l
INN:Toras Avigdor


Taking out the ashs is required only for cleansing the Mizbeach, the altar, of the superfluous ashes, and it has no other purpose.

Without being so bold as to assert that the following thought is actually symbolized by this act of cleansing the Mizbeach, we could however utilize the lesson, in accordance with the Torah-analogy elsewhere.

And they shall eat those (things) wherewith atonement was made” (Shmos 29:33); “this teaches that the Cohanim eat and (thereby) the owners (of the offering) gain atonement” (Pesachim 59B).

Thus, part of the Karban is consumed by the fire of the altar, and part is consumed in the holy bodies of the Cohanim.

But even the ordinary Israelite is a member of “the nation of Cohanim” and they may eat of sacrifices such as Shlamim and Todah and Maaser; therefore their holy bodies also serve to consume the sacrifices.

Thus, before offering his daily prayers to Hashem, he cleanses his hands: “I wash my hands in cleanliness, and I go around your Mizbeach, Hashern, that I may make the voice of thanksgiving to be heard, and tell of Your wondrous works” (Tehillim 26:6-7).

When the Israelite puts on his garments, he can think of following the analogy of the Cohen who dons the sacerdotal vestments; when he washes his hands before prayer he is imitating the Mitzvah of Cohanim to wash their hands and feet before performing Avodah (Shmos 30:20-21); and when he purifies his body before praying (“One that needs to relieve himself is forbidden to pray” — Brachos 23A), he may utilize the model of removing the ash from the Mizbeach before bringing offerings upon it.

Actually, the Israelite's body is more holy: a fire on Shabbos may not be extinguished to save the Mishkan, but it is indeed permissible and even mandatory to rescue a Jewish life even if it requires profaning the Shabbos.

And to continue the analogy: the holy body of the Israelite is cleansed just as the Mizbeach is cleansed of the ash, and the kosher food (or even the sacred meat of the offerings) is then consumed on the holy altar of the Israelite body.  (A Nation is Born)