Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  LifeLine
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Tetzaveh

by Rabbi Yaakov Menken


"And you shall make an Altar, a place to burn incense; you shall make it from acacia wood." [30:1]

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, zt"l, notes that the other articles in the Tabernacle were described in the previous parsha, Terumah, whereas the Incense Altar is only mentioned here. This is even more puzzling because still later, in Vayakhel and Pikudei (the final weekly readings of the Book of Exodus), the Torah tells us that Betzalel, the inspired craftsman, made this Altar, and then made the Altar for sacrifices - and similarly, G-d commanded Moshe to have the Incense Altar and Sacrificial Altar brought into the Tabernacle, in that order. If the Incense Altar was to be constructed first, why was the command given so much later?

Clearly, the Torah "waited" to mention this Altar for a reason. Rabbi Feinstein says that G-d was waiting until Aaron was designated the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, before mentioning the Altar. This, Rabbi Feinstein explains, is because of the lessons we can learn from the smell of the Incense - and how they relate to Jewish leadership.

The smell of the incense used in the Tabernacle and then the Temple was quite powerful, and one could detect the scent a long distance away. The Talmud in Tractate Tamid says that they could smell the incense from the Temple as far away as Yericho.

Secondly, odors - whether good or bad - come upon a person even against his will. One can look away from something, but it is hard to avoid a scent without moving away from it. The Talmud in Tractate Pesachim discusses the prohibition against deriving pleasure from idolatry, and the Sages argue whether a person violates this prohibition if the smell of incense (offered to idols) comes into the room, and s/he doesn't leave - even without any intention of going closer to the smell.

Finally, certain smells are like an early warning system - such as the smell of spoiled food, or, for that matter, the unique odor of melting silicon which is part and parcel of our electronic era. A perceptive person must be on the alert, ready to respond to the signals provided by these scents.

Rabbi Feinstein says that a Jewish leader must have three similar attributes. First of all, he must be able to influence his students even when they are far away. His reach should be so powerful that he motivates them even against their will. And finally, he himself must be alert and perceptive, knowing which directions are appropriate and positive. To mix metaphors, the Talmud in Tractate Tamid says, "Who is wise? He who sees the likely outcome of events (literally: that which will be born)."

This explains why the Torah waited for the designation of Aaron as High Priest before mentioning this Altar. Furthermore, it explains why the actual construction and installation took precedence over the Sacrificial Altar - because the quality of a positive influence over others, encouraging them to move upward, is far more significant than merely performing obligatory sacrifices!

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Yaakov Menken


 






ARTICLES ON NOACH:

View Complete List

Immorality Around Us
Shlomo Katz - 5759

G-d's Message for All Humanity
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5764

Noach - A 'Standard' Tzaddik
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5764

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Lesson of the Ravens
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5763

Before It Rains
Rabbi Label Lam - 5767

Hashem's Promise
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5770

ArtScroll

Understanding the Faith of Noach
Rabbi Yosef Kalatsky - 5763

Hide the Shame
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5758

Ark D'triumph
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

> Free Gifts for People Who Find Favor
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5767

In a Heartbeat
Rabbi Label Lam - 5769

Gevuros and History
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5763

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

A Flood of Something...
Rabbi Label Lam - 5763

Home Alone
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5756

Making It Perfect
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5763

What Goes Around Comes Around
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5760



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information