Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  Page title
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Small Sacrifices: Understanding Parashas Korbanos

Incense Offerings

While many of the sacrifices served as an atonement for our transgressions, the ketores (incense offering) had a different goal. Its purpose was simply to bring joy to Hashem, as the verse testifies: “Oil and incense gladden the heart” (Mishle 27). While in a state of joy, Hashem removes any traces of harsh judgment from the world (Medrash Tanchuma, Tetzaveh 15).

The Zohar adds: “If a person feels that bad things are happening in his life and nothing that he does is successful, he should meticulously recite the section of the ketores every morning and afternoon. If he does this, as well as repenting to Hashem, his situation will improve drastically” (Vayakel 219a). Saying this section is auspicious for financial prosperity, especially when written on parchment by a sofer (Seder Hayom p. 53).

The ketores contained eleven ingredients, and a Kohen who offered incense which lacked even one of them was subject to the death penalty. The Rema suggests that a person who skips a word of the verses describing the incense offering may be liable for a similar punishment. Based on this, some Jews in the Diaspora have the custom to only recite these verses on Shabbos and Yom Tov, when their schedules are more relaxed, so they can make sure that they recite these words carefully (Rema 132,2).

Others argue that the death penalty applies only to a Kohen in the Temple, and not to someone in our age who merely left out a word while reciting the ketores verses. Even a Kohen who offered incense that was missing an ingredient would be punished only if it was intentional (Beis Yosef). However, while taking time constraints into account, one should still try to say the ketores section carefully every day (Mishna Berura 132,17).

Text Copyright © 2008 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and



View Complete List

Extending the Awe
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5776

A Fresh Start
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5770

Why Tell Stories?
Shlomo Katz - 5764


The Uniqueness of Man
Shlomo Katz - 5766

Where Are You?
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5756

Safely Carried on the Wings of Eagles
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5761

> A Mate, not a Maid!
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756

Just Desserts
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

Meaning and Purpose: A Good Beginning
Rabbi Label Lam - 5769

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Reflections, Dissections and Connections
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5774

Dog-matic Murder
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5764

Forbidden Fruit - The Good and the Bad
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Four Species: All for One; One for All
Rabbi Osher Chaim Levene - 5766

A Beginning With No End
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758

Spreading the Fate
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

Property and Pursuit of Happiness
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5771

Project Genesis Home

Torah Portion

Jewish Law



Learn the Basics




Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base


About Us

Contact Us

Free Book on Geulah! Home Copyright Information