One of the steps in the order of the morning Tamid was Hatavas Haneiros. According to the Rambam, this refers to the lighting of the Menorah. Other authorities maintain that the Menorah was only lit in the afternoon. The Hatavas Haneiros in the morning was the cleaning and preparing of the Menorah with new wicks and oil to be lit in the evening.
When the Menorah was prepared or kindled, not all seven lamps were done at once. The Kohen who was tasked with preparing or lighting the Menorah would do five of the lights. A different Avodah would be performed and then the Kohen would complete the remaining two candles.
According to the sages, the Avodah that made the separation was the offering of the Ketores.
In Chassidus, Ketores represents the essence of the soul and its desire for and oneness with Hashem. With this desire, the Neshama seeks to transcend the world and cleave to Hashem.
The Menorah reflects the conscious levels of the soul, which are very much within the world. The seven branches represent the seven Middos, the emotions of the soul.
These emotions are divided into two groups; the first five Middos are the primary emotions of the Neshama for its own Avodah. The final two, Yesod and Malchus refer to the soul’s ability to interact with and influence the world around it.
The ultimate objective is that the experience of oneness (the Ketores) not remain detached from the world and isolated in moments of spiritual upliftment.
We need to permeate our conscious day-to-day living (the Menorah) with the absolute awareness, connection and surrender to Hashem of the soul’s essence; not only in the holy activities of our lives (the five Middos) but also in our day-to-day worldly involvements as well (the final two Middos).
The sheep for the Tamid offering would be Shechted in the northern side of the Azarah. A Kohen had to collect its blood in a sanctified vessel and carry it to the Mizbeach. The blood would be applied to the north-east and south-west corners of the Mizbeach and the remaining blood would be poured on the base.
On a personal level, sacrifices represent the refining and elevating of our animalistic side, which is the source of our selfish drives, negative emotions and the pursuit of physical gratification.
The lifeforce (Nefesh) of the animal is its blood - כי הדם הוא הנפש. In addition to meaning soul, Nefesh can also mean desire. The boiling blood represents the Animalistic soul’s passionate desires for materialism.
The Animalistic soul itself is not intrinsically bad. Its strong desires can be harnessed and redirected in a positive way towards G-dliness. Through this we fulfil the directive of the Shema as explained by the sages, to love Hashem with both of our inclinations.
Draining the blood from the animal represents removing our passion and excitement from its expression in selfish, material desires.
Pouring the blood on the Mizbeach teaches us that our passionate desire and enthusiasm can and should be channelled towards the service of Hashem.
In the Midrash, the sages debate which verse encapsulates the essence of the Torah. Ben Zoma teaches that it is the verse _Shema Yisrael_, which proclaims Hashem as King and declares His oneness. Ben Nanas (and elsewhere Rabbi Akiva) teach that it is the verse ואהבת לרעך כמוך – to love your fellow as yourself.
Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi says that it is the verse את הכבש האחד תעשה בבוקר “the first lamb you shall sacrifice in the morning and the second lamb you shall sacrifice in the evening.” The Midrash concludes that Rabbi Ploni said that the Halacha accords with ben Pazi.
Seemingly, the verses of _Shema Yisrael_ and _Veahavta_ embody beliefs which are more central. Why does the Midrash consider a verse discussing the daily Temple sacrifices to be more fundamental?
The Mahara”l explains that the uniqueness of this verse is that it expresses the idea of consistency in the service of Hashem, like a dedicated and faithful servant
This is why the daily sacrifice was called the Tamid, meaning constant – an offering in the morning and an offering in the evening, day-in, day-out without change. Whether it was Shabbos, Yomim Tovim, Yom Kippur or a regular weekday, the Tamid was brought without fail.
The glue that builds solid relationships is not the moments of ecstasy and passion. Rather it is the small daily expressions of loyalty and dependability done with consistency. The same is true in our relationship with Hashem.
The message of the Tamid is that above all, Hashem wants our simple, consistent, daily acts, performed with discipline and dedication, which communicate “I am always thinking of You”.
In the next stage of the Avodah, the Kohanim would arrange the pyres on top of the Mizbeach, including the large pyre for the sacrifices and the smaller pyre for the incense. In addition, 2 blocks of wood would be placed on the main fire each morning, referred to as the Shnei Gizrei Eitzim.
Our sages tell us that fireball would fall from Heaven onto the altar to consume the Korbanos. Nonetheless, it was still a Mitzvah to place wood on the Mizbeach each day, to fuel the fire in a natural way, through earthly, human effort.
The same is true in maintaining the love that the Neshama has for Hashem. Love is like a fire. The flames of passion burn with intensity. But if not maintained, the flames eventually die down and the fire will go out.
Our relationship with Hashem has ‘fireball’ moments. We become inspired on the Yomim Tovim and Yomim Noraim. We may experience a personal awakening from Above where we feel connected and Hashem draws us close, through little or no effort of our own. This love comes to us as a gift from Heaven.
But to keep our love burning, we can’t rely only on these fireball moments to do the trick. Hashem wants us to feeding the fire on a daily basis through our own earthly efforts. We do this in study and prayer, by using our own minds and hearts to meditate on Hashem’s greatness and try to connect to Him and sense His presence.
The earthly fire, fuelled by the wood each day was the magnet that elicited the fireball from Heaven. When we try to cultivate and develop our love for Hashem through our own efforts, the fire from below, Hashem will respond with a powerful revelation of His presence within our lives with His fire from above.
Before removing the excess ashes from the Mizbeach and taking them outside of the camp, the Torah teaches “he shall remove his garments and put on other garments”. The Kohen would have to change his clothing, to prevent his Priestly robes becoming soiled.
Even though the removal of the ashes was also a necessary part of the Temple service, it could not be compared to the actual Avodah that was performed inside the Beis Hamikdash. To highlight this, a more inferior set of clothing was worn for removing the ashes.
Rashi illustrates this with a parable; the clothing worn by a servant when cooking for their master, should not be worn when pouring the master’s drink.
Cooking the meal is a necessary preparation to be able to serve the meal, but the cooking is merely a means to reach the ultimate objective, to serve the meal and honour one’s master with it. The removal of the ashes was a necessary preparation, to create space to serve Hashem with the new offerings.
In yesterday’s post, we explained that the removal of the ashes represents our inner work to confront and remove our negative issues and baggage. Our sages teach that a person should only start to pray having experienced a sense of contrition.
But this should only be a preparation to make space for a deeper emotional experience. Once we start the Avodah of davening itself, we must push away this sense of contrition and daven from a place of true joy and love.
Like the Kohen removing the ashes, we don’t want our dealing with negative baggage to sully us, so we must ‘put on other garments’. But after we’ve removed our ashes, we divest ourselves of these ‘garments’, pushing away all association with the negative, to honour our Master with the fresh, clean garments of joy and positivity.
The first Avodah that was done each day in the Beis Hamikdash was Terumas Hadeshen.
One of the Kohanim, selected by a lottery, would go up onto the Mizbeach and take a panful of ashes. He would bring the ashes down the ramp and place them on the side of the Mizbeach, where it would become absorbed on the floor of the courtyard.
In addition to the Terumas Hadeshen, the Kohanim would remove the excess ashes from on top of the Mizbeach. These ashes would be taken to a designated place outside of the camp.
The ashes are the residual that remains after the Korbanos have been burned. The choice parts of the Korban would burn and ascend on High. The ashes that remain are the Pesoles, the ‘waste’ that remains below.
There are two types of Pesoles. One type cannot be elevated and we must distance it completely and remove it from our camp. The other type of Pesoles has some good quality in it that can be refined, elevated and incorporated into the side of Holiness.
In Avodah, these two types of Pesoles are Merirus and Atzvus; bitterness and depression.
One has to serve Hashem with joy. Therefore, both Merirus and Atzvus, being negative emotions, are considered as Pesoles; undesirable states of mind.
But there is a difference between them. Merirus is feeling bad about one’s self and spiritual standing in a way that leads to resolve to change and active steps to grow. There is a positive element within Merirus that ultimately leads a person back to Simcha.
Atzvus – depression, is an overwhelming feeling of lowness that leads to despondency and giving up.
Merirus, like the ashes placed by the side of the Mizbeach that remain within the Azarah, can be elevated and used as a tool in our service of Hashem. Atzvus, like the ashes that were taken out of the camp, must be removed entirely from our experience.
~ Based on Maamarim Kuntreisim volume 1 page 545
When the Beis Hamikdash stood, the central focus of the service of Hashem revolved around the sacrifices that were offered by the Kohanim.
Even though the Temple no longer stands, it does not mean that we no longer have the Avodah of Korbanos.
Our sages teach that whoever occupies themselves in the Torah-study of the sacrifices, it is considered as though they have offered those sacrifices. And our daily prayers were enacted in place of the Korbanos.
In our morning Davening, as we read the description of the daily Tamid offering, we quote the Posuk ונשלמה פרים שפתינו “We will repay the bulls (of the sacrifices) with our lips”, alluding to how our words of prayer are in place of the sacrifices.
The word ונשלמה can also mean to complete. This suggests that there is an advantage in our prayers and Torah study about the Korbanos, which completes a deficiency in the actual Korbanos.
The physical observance of the sacrifices was limited - in time, place and soul. They could only be performed in the Beis Hamikdash, at specific times and by the Kohanim alone. But the study of Torah transcends all of these limitations.
Every Mitzvah is eternal. Those Mitzvos that we can no longer observe physically, can be observed spiritually, through the inner lessons that they teach us. Over the next 3 weeks, we will be exploring the inner lessons from the various elements of the daily order of the sacrifices.
May our learning about the Avodah of the Beis Hamikdash and applying these lessons to our daily lives be considered as though we have offered Korbanos to Hashem. And may this hasten the restoration of the Beis Hamikdash and the daily Avodah once more.