The first Avodah that was done in the Beis Hamikdash each day was Terumas Hadeshen. This was done before any sacrifices could be brought.
The Kohen designated 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. These ashes would miraculously be absorbed by the floor of the Azarah.
In addition to the Terumas Hadeshen, the Kohanim would remove the excess ashes from the Mizbeach and take them to a designated place outside of the camp.
The sacrifices represent our spiritual growth and personal Avodah. But before we can engage in meaningful positive growth, we need to remove and deal with our negative baggage – our ashes. If we don’t, they will hold us back and create a blockage to achieving the growth that we seek.
The ashes placed beside the Mizbeach represents the negative baggage that we can deal with, overcome and transform.
But there may be things that we presently don’t have the ability or strength to deal with. Instead of letting them linger, we need to move them outside; to put them completely out of our mind and out of our experience, so that they too will not pull us down. They should remain outside until we have the strength to face them.
~ Based on Maamar Parshas Reeh 5714
The primary function of walls is to provide protection for those within them. The walls afford this protection in two ways;
Even when the enemy forces are camped outside of the city, making noise and threats, the wall creates a barrier that prevents them from being able to enter and do any real harm.
Behind the protection of the walls, the defending soldiers are able to consolidate and build their strength, so that they can drive away the enemy completely.
Our G-dly soul and animalistic soul are in conflict. The G-dly soul is enclothed within the animalistic soul. Our animalistic side seeks to dominate our G-dly soul, leading us to sin and pursuit of worldly desires. The G-dly soul wants to express its light and subjugate the animalistic soul in the service of Hashem.
Our G-dly soul, like the Beis Hamikdash, is a place of incredible holiness. But we need walls to protect our G-dly side from the attacks of our animalistic soul which seeks to bring us down. This protection is also twofold;
Even when our animalistic soul ‘makes noise’ with thoughts of sin and negative emotions, the wall is the protection that prevents it from getting in and actualising these impulses in thought, speech and action of sin.
The protection of the wall also allows us to consolidate and strengthen our G-dly soul, so that we have the spiritual strength to overcome and transform our animalistic side completely.
Our sages teach חומה זו תורה – the wall of spiritual protection is the study of Torah
~ Based on Sefer Maamarim 5693 p508
The Beis Hamikdash was surrounded by a series of walls. There were walls around the Azarah (courtyard) and there were walls around Har Habayis (the Temple Mount).
Walls create a protective barrier of defence to keep out any enemies or undesirable forces. But they also serve another function; Walls delineate how far the borders of a city extend.
The different areas within the Beis Hamikdash compound had differing degrees of holiness, reflected in what Avodah could be done in each area. These areas were delineated by borders in the form of the walls. The holiness of the inner space extended until the wall.
In Avodah we also need walls around our ‘holiness’. Our G-dly passion needs to be contained so that it does not manifest in the wrong place or the wrong way. Unrestricted, our inner spiritual intentions could result in the opposite of what we are trying to achieve. To share 2 couple of examples;
Before engaging in Avodah, a person should introspect on their spiritual standing so that feel a sense of humility before Hashem. Without ‘walls,’ the Yetzer Hara can hijack this introspection to bring a person to feeling of depression and melancholy. These feelings lead to a sense of inadequacy and apathy, where we feel incapable and unworthy of serving Hashem.
Another example is the condition described in Chassidus where a person’s fiery passion in davening and Avodah can lead to feelings of fiery anger and indignation towards others, once the davening is over. Without protective boundaries, the holy emotions can spill over into unholy manifestations.
We need limits to confine our holiness, ensuring that it is expressed only in a positive way and that it doesn’t express itself where it doesn't belong.
~ Based on Sefer Maamarim 5693 p508
The water used in the Temple was sourced from the nearby spring, Ein Eitam. Our sages identify Ein Eitam as being the highest point in Eretz Yisrael.
One of the Mikvaos in the Beis Hamikdash was built on top of the Water Gate. This Mikvah was used by the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur for his first of 5 immersions.
The Temple gates were 20 Amos (approximately 10 metres) high. The measurements of a Mikvah are (minimum) 1 by 1 Amah with a depth of 3 Amos. Therefore, the water level in this Mikvah would have been 23 Amos above the courtyard floor.
The water would flow down from Ein Eitam towards the Beis Hamikdash and then brought up with an inverted siphon effect to fill this Mikvah. Due to natural pressure, water in an inverted siphon will always find a level. Since this level cannot be higher than the original source of the water, our sages deduce that the Eitam spring must also have been 23 Amos above the courtyard level.
If you want to raise water to a level higher than its source, an outside force, such as a pump, is required.
The Neshama, like water flowing downhill, descends from its lofty spiritual source into a body down here in the physical world. This descent is for the purpose of achieving an even greater elevation. But without any outside force, the Neshama cannot rise higher than the source from which it came.
Torah and Mitzvos act like a pump. When the Neshama keeps Torah and Mitzvos in this world and engages in refining the body and animalistic soul, it reaches levels of connection to Hashem which are far deeper than the Neshama would have otherwise experienced. This powerful G-dly force pumps the Neshama up to the highest of heights.
The Torah commands us that “a perpetual fire should burn on the Mizbeach and never be extinguished”. The Torah gives us the responsibility to maintain the altar’s fires. And so, in the Holy Temple, two blocks of wood had to be placed onto the altar each day to fuel its fire. The wood for the Mizbeach would be stored in a special-purpose store room in the Ezras Nashim.
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 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.
The Torah teaches “you shall not ascend my Mizbeach with steps (מעלות) so that you do not reveal your nakedness upon it”. This is counted as one of the 365 prohibitions of the Torah. Instead, the Kohanim would climb the Mizbeach via a ramp (כבש).
The word for steps – מעלות – derives from the root עלה, meaning to go up. Maalos is used to describe a person’s qualities and accomplishments that elevate them to a particular level or status.
The Mizbeach represents the service of Hashem. The Torah is telling us that when we begin climbing the Mizbeach of serving Hashem, we should not focus on scrutinising our Maalos – our spiritual qualities and accomplishments.
The concern is that by doing this, we may come to uncover our ‘nakedness’. When we honestly reflect on our spiritual accomplishments and where we really stand, we can come to realise that we are in fact spiritually ‘naked’ and lacking; that we are lowly and not lofty. When we focus on our deficiencies, we may feel ourselves inadequate and unworthy to be able to serve Hashem or feel like a fake for trying to do so.
Despite where we are up to and what is going on inside, Hashem wants our service. We can and we must climb the altar of serving Hashem.
But how is it possible to advance in keeping Torah and Mitzvos when we don’t feel anything inside or if we feel spiritually low?
The answer is via a Kevesh. Kevesh, meaning ramp, comes from the word to conquer. When we feel spiritually low, we need to conquer our feelings of inadequacy and ‘throw’ ourselves into the Avodah. Even if we feel like a fake, we have to find the inner strength to keep the Mitzvos, because that is what Hashem wants. This is the Middah of Kabbolas Ol.
When we climb the Mizbeach with this approach, Hashem will help us, so that ultimately, we will attain true and genuine spiritual accomplishment.
~ Toras Menachem 5713 volume 2 p189
In the passage describing the building of the Mizbeach, there are 2 contradictory verses. One verse says “Make for Me an altar of earth (אדמה)”. The very next verse says “And if you make for Me an altar of stones (אבנים).”
The Midrash resolves the contradiction. The word ‘if’ in the second verse does not mean that it is optional. Building the Mizbeach out of stone is obligatory. When the Torah mentions “an altar of earth”, it is not referring to the construction material, but rather to the requirement that the Mizbeach sit directly on the ground and not be built over tunnels or columns.
This obligation to build the Mizbeach out of stone only began upon entering Eretz Yisroel. The Mizbeach in the Mishkan was not made of stone. It was built as a hollow wooden structure and covered with copper-plate. When they would camp, the hollow would be filled with sand and was literally “an altar of earth”.
The difference between earth and stone is that stone has greater strength and durability.
In our Avodah, the Mizbeach represent davening, which is in place of the Korbanos. Davening is called the ‘service of the heart’, an experience of emotion.
Chassidus explains that there are two modes of emotional connection to Hashem. One level is through the emotions that are developed through meditation. Limited by our understanding, this love is more external and weak and can therefore fade after davening is finished. A deeper level of emotional connection is through revealing the Neshama’s powerful desire for Hashem that transcends intellect and reason. This love is strong and lasting.
Being in the desert represents a state of spiritual infancy when we are at the beginning of our service of Hashem and not yet able to experience the deeper connection. And so the Mizbeach of the Mishkan, which was only a temporary structure, was an “altar of earth”.
Arriving in Eretz Yisroel represents a state of spiritual maturity and open G-dly revelation when we are able to experience the deeper and stronger emotional relationship with Hashem that transcends intellect. And so the Mizbeach in the Beis Hamikdash was “an altar of stone”.
~ Based on Sefer Hamaamarim 5658 ד"ה זה יתנו
The Navi Zechariah was shown a vision of a golden Menorah that was very different to the Menorah of the Beis Hamikdash.
In his vision, the Menorah had a bowl on its top. Coming out of the bowl were 7 pipes that fed into the 7 candles of the Menorah. On either side of the bowl stood an olive tree and an olive press.
Clusters of olives would fall from the trees into two golden presses which would crush the olives. The pure oil would flow into the bowl where it would collect. From there, it would flow through the 7 pipes to fill the 7 candles of the Menorah. All of this happened by itself without any human involvement.
The Menorah in the Beis Hamikdash needed human effort at each step. The olives needed to be harvested and pressed to produce the oil. There was no bowl and no pipes to automatically feed the candles. Every day the Kohen would have to refill the Menorah with fresh oil.
The difference between the 2 Menorahs reflects the difference between the experience of Geulah and during the time of Exile.
The Menorah of Zechariah was a Messianic prophesy. The G-dly revelations that we will experience in the time of the Geulah are so lofty that they are beyond our capacity to elicit. Like the oil in Zechariah’s vision, these revelations will flow by themselves from above, independent of our efforts. In Kabbalah this is called an Isarusa D’leila, an awakening that comes from above.
The Menorah of the Beis Hamikdash represents the pre-Geulah reality. This reality is a world of action where our efforts are imperative. During Golus, our work of refining physicality is constantly required to illuminate the world with the light of Hashem. This is referred to as an Isarusa D’lesata, an awakening elicited from below.
The Menorah of the Beis Hamikdash reminds us that while we are still in Golus, now is the time for action. What we do makes all the difference. Through our efforts, we will merit to experience the Menorah of Zechariah, when Hashem will fill the world with the light of the Geulah.
~ Based on Or Hatorah Vayechi p1120
The ramp used to climb up to the top of the Mizbeach is called the Kevesh. On the Eastern side of the main ramp was a smaller ramp which went to the Sovev. The Sovev (literally to go around) was a ledge, 1 Amah wide, that went around the Mizbeach. The Sovev stood 6 Amos above ground-level.
The Kohanim would climb up to the Sovev and walk around it, to apply the blood of the Chatas offering to the 4 corners of the Mizbeach, starting at the South-Eastern corner and finishing at the South-Western corner. The Kohen would then descend from the Sovev via another minor ramp on the Western side of the Kevesh.
Our sages describe this Avodah in the Mishna; עלה בכבש ופנה לסובב, “He would go up the ramp and turn to the Sovev”. We read this Mishna each day as part of the Korbanos in davening.
The word Kevesh also means to conquer. Our sages teach איזהו גיבור הכובש את יצרו, “who is strong? One who conquers their evil inclination”. The ultimate Avodah is not to destroy or crush the Yetzer Hara, but rather to conquer it. Our Yetzer Hara remains present, but we strive to restrain its negative expressions and impulses and instead harness its positive qualities to use in the service of Hashem.
In Kabbalah, Sovev (meaning surrounding), refers to the essential light of Hashem called the אור הסובב כל עלמין. This light is so lofty that it cannot be contained and manifest within the order of created worlds. Instead, it remains hidden and transcendent. Only a contracted ray of light (ממלא כל עלמין) filters into the worlds in the process of creation.
The inner meaning of the Mishna is; עלה בכבש, through every effort and ascent that a person climbs in conquering their Yetzer, פנה לסובב, they access and draw down Hashem’s transcendent light that would otherwise be beyond the worlds.
Our Yetzer Hara challenges us with negative impulse, including; anger, jealousy and unholy desires. Each time that we conquer one of these urges by not acting upon them and giving them expression, we connect ourselves to the highest levels of G-dliness and infuse them into our soul and into our world.
¬ Based on Maamarim Kuntreisim Beis ד"ה איזהו גבור
The Azarah (courtyard) of the Beis Hamikdash had 7 gates. Each of these gates had gold-plated doors (with the exception of the gate of Nikanor whose doors were of copper). These doors were closed each night. Each doorway also had a curtain which would be draped across the gate during the daytime when the doors were open. The purpose of these curtains was for privacy.
There were 6 other curtains in the Beis Hamikdash, including 2 curtains separating the Kodesh and Kodesh Hakodoshim.
In mystical teachings, a veil or curtain represents a restraint on intensity. Just like a curtain are used to filter light, blocking out its intensity and allowing a more tolerable level of light to enter the room, there is a need for ‘curtains’ in the spiritual sense as well.
The Kabbalists explain that the G-dly radiance of the Infinite Light was too powerful to be received by a created reality. And so Hashem veiled His light through a process of Tzimtzumim, contractions, which limited the intensity of the light in order to create finite worlds and be manifest within them.
The open doorways represent how the G-dly revelation that pervaded the Beis Hamikdash shone outwards. The curtains reflect how this light needed to be filtered to allow the wider-world to receive it.
In our interactions with others, we also need curtains and filters. Sometimes we may be too intense and overwhelm those around us by not give them enough space or consideration. We may come across too strong in our opinions. We may be too blunt and forward, saying things without filtration. Or we may share our emotions too intensely, smothering the other with our love and closeness or pushing them away with our anger or distance.
When our doors are open and we want to share our inner self with others, we need to think about the other with whom we are sharing our ideas and emotions and how we can share them in a way that will be best received. Like the Beis Hamikdash, our open doorways sometimes needs a curtain.
~ Based on Derech Mitzvosecha Mitzvas Milah
“This is the making of the Menorah, hammered out of gold, from its base (יריכה) until its flower (פרחה) it is hammered out” (Bamidbar 8:4)
The golden Menorah represents the collective of the Jewish people. The Menorah had to be made from one solid block of pure gold that was hammered into shape, reflecting the unity of the Jewish people.
This verse identifies two of the features of the Menorah, the base (or leg) and the decorative flower. The base represents people on a lower spiritual level. The flower represents the Tzaddikim whose service flourishes and blooms with beauty.
The prophet Zechariah was shown a vision of “a Menorah made entirely of gold ”. The Midrash connects this vision to Hashem’s description of the Jewish people in Shir Hashirim "You are entirely beautiful My beloved, there is no blemish in you ”.
The prophets Yechezkel and Yirmiyahu who foretold of the destruction of the Temple, castigated the Jewish people for their sins, likening them to silver, bronze and copper which have sediments and impurities.
But Zechariah saw the Jewish people like the Menorah that had to be made entirely of the purest gold; a people who are all beautiful and free from any sediment or imperfection.
Yechezkel and Yirmiyahu looked at the surface and saw their deficiencies. Zechariah looked deeper and saw the essential core of every Jew. This inner core is pure gold that cannot be tainted. The Menorah teaches us to see every Jew, be they a flower or a base, as a pure Neshama which fills the world with the light of Hashem .
~ Based on Likutei Torah Behalosecha ד"ה ראיתי והנה מנורה
After the destruction of the first Beis Hamikdash, the Jewish people were sent into exile in Bavel. While in Bavel, Hashem instructed the prophet Yechezkel to teach them the details of the design of the Beis Hamikdash. Yechezkel challenged Hashem, “how are they capable of making the Beis Hamikdash while they are in exile? First let them leave their exile and then I will tell them!” Hashem responded, “just because My children are in exile should the construction of My home be neglected?”
Exile represents a state of spiritual lowliness, darkness and distance from Hashem. When we feel disconnected we may see ourselves as not capable or worthy of serving Hashem. How we can be involved in making this world into a home for Hashem when we are not in a good place ourselves?
Hashem’s answer to Yechezkel teaches us that no matter how low you may feel, or what situation you find yourself in, Hashem wants you. Despite your darkness and struggles, you have the ability to draw Hashem into your life, to build a home for Him and actualise His desire to live within us.
In the continuation of this Midrash, Hashem says that by learning about the design of the Beis Hamikdash in Torah, He will consider it as though we have been involved in actually rebuilding the Beis Hamikdash. The Rebbe draws on this Midrash as the basis for learning about the Beis Hamikdash during the Three Weeks. We look forward to sharing the Daily Beis Hamikdash Thought with you. Through this study may we merit to see the Third Beis Hamikdash with the imminent arrival of Moshiach.
There were two altars in the Beis Hamikdash. The Mizbeach Hachitzon, the outer altar used for the sacrifices, stood in the courtyard. Inside the Heichal was the Mizbeach Hapenimi, the inner altar which was used for offering Ketores.
The Alter Rebbe identifies two levels of emotional connection, two experiences of fiery love for Hashem. These two dimensions are represented by the two altars.
The outer altar represents the emotions of the conscious soul, referred to as חיצוניות הלב, the external heart. These are the feelings of love for Hashem that are developed through meditation on Hashem’s greatness.
The inner heart (פנימיות הלב), represented by the inner altar, is the essential desire which comes from the essence of the soul. This desire transcends reason and understanding. It is the implicit, powerful desire for Hashem alone that every Jew possesses.
The correlation reflects itself in the Avodah of each of the two altars.
Korban (sacrifice) comes from the word Karov, drawing close. The fire generated by meditation draws us close to Hashem. The fires of the outer altar, consume the desires of the animalistic soul. But we remain separate and the experience dissipates.
Ketores (incense) is related to the Aramaic term for a knot. A knot binds two things together so that they become one. This is the suprarational love and desire from the essence. Once revealed, this love never passes.
Tanya Igeres Hakodesh chapter 4
Likkutei Torah Sukkos, Ushavtem Mayim
Hemshech Ayin Beis chapter 212
Anticipating the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash, Shlomo Hamelech built winding passageways deep under the Temple floor. Here the Aron would be hidden so that it would never be destroyed or taken captive.
The Aron was absent from the Kodesh Hakodashim in the second Beis Hamikdash, but its presence and influence was there from deep below the surface.
Unlike the rest of the Beis Hamikdash which was completely destroyed and the other Keilim which were plundered, the Aron was untouched by the destruction.
Inside the Aron were the Luchos, with the words of the Aseres Hadibros carved into stone. Unlike written letters, where the ink and paper are ultimately separate, carved letters are one with the stone into which they are cut.
The Aron represents the essence of the Neshama. At the outer levels of our soul, we become connected to Hashem like ink on paper through the Mitzvos that we do, through our feelings and meditation. At our essential core, like the letters on the Luchos, we and Hashem are one.
The destructive forces of our animalistic soul may attack our inner Beis Hamikdash, eroding our outer levels of connection. But deep inside of us and ever present, our Yechida, our essential oneness with Hashem, is untouchable.
All of the walls surrounding Har Habayis were built very tall with the exception of the wall above the gate on the Eastern wall which was built lower than the others. Why?
A person who became impure through contact with the dead could only be purified with the ashes of the Parah Adumah. The Parah Adumah was slaughtered and burned on Har Hazeisim to the East of the Beis Hamikdash.
Even though the Parah Adumah had to be slaughtered and burned outside of Yerushalaim on Har Hazeisim, the Kohen had to face and be able to see the doorway of the Heichal. The Eastern wall was built lower to give the Kohen an unobscured view all the way into the Kodesh.
Spiritual death is disconnection from Hashem – the source of life. The Kohen leaving the Beis Hamikdash to prepare the Parah Adumah represents the sacrifice of leaving one’s own spiritual comforts to bring purity to those who need it.
When a person leaves their environment of holiness for the purpose of connecting others to Hashem, it may seem that they are moving away. In truth, Hashem lowers all of the walls and barriers, giving us unhindered access to the deepest levels of connection.
Rambam Hilchos Beis Habechira 6:5
The Mizbeach had a base (Yesod) that protruded one Amah outwards. The base only ran along the North and West sides of the Mizbeach. Along the South and East sides of the Mizbeach there was no base. Why?
The Beis Hamikdash structure and the Mizbeach were built in the territory of the Tribe of Binyomin. In Yaakov’s blessings, Binyomin is described as a devouring wolf. Prophetically this refers to the Mizbeach which would consume the Korbanos like a wolf devours its prey. The border with the Tribe of Yehudah ran through the courtyard where the Mizbeach stood.
Our sages teach that Binyomin foresaw that a strip of the territory of Yehudah would encroach on the site of the Mizbeach at its South-Eastern corner. Binyomin was deeply bothered by this and yearned constantly for the entire Mizbeach to be within his territory.
As a reward for his deep spiritual desire, Binyomin merited to become the resting place of the Shechina in the Beis Hamikdash. The Yesod was not built on this strip of land so that the entire Mizbeach would be in his territory as he had wished.
When we have a genuine spiritual desire for connection with Hashem and are bothered when it is lacking in our lives, if we strive and pray for it, Hashem will gift us the spiritual connection that we long for.
Mishna Middos 3:1
Unlike the other Keilim, the Kiyor was not used in the Avodah. It was used as a preparation for the Avodah and was the first Keli to be used each day. If a Kohen did not wash their hands and feet before the Avodah, their service would be invalid.
The Beis Hamikdash comprises 3 main areas; the Azarah (courtyard), the Kodesh and the Kodesh Hakodashim. These areas and the Avodah performed within them, represent 3 phases in lifting ourselves up to connect to Hashem.
The first step when leaving the street to enter the “Beis Hamikdash” of spiritual growth, is the Azarah. The Azarah, like a courtyard, is a preparation before entering into Kodesh and ultimately the Kodesh Hakodoshim. The Kiyor stood in the Azarah.
Before entering our homes, we wipe our feet at the door so that we don’t dirty the floor with mud that has been brought in from the street. Without a doormat, the most beautiful home will quickly become spoiled.
When a person leaves the outside world and seeks spiritual growth, the first thing that they need to do is to wash off any ‘dirt’ from the outside which may have stuck onto them. These include worldly attitudes and influences which are contrary to Kedusha. If not removed, they will hold us back from real spiritual growth.
Then we can engage in our Avodah with the Keilim of Torah and Tefillah, climbing the rungs of holiness in absolute purity.
Based on Reshimas Hamenora written by the Lubavitcher Rebbe
The Menorah was made with decorative features in the shapes of cups, balls and flowers. At the top of each of the seven branches were three of the cup-shaped decorations. The Rambam draws the cups facing downwards.
The seven branches of the Menorah reflect the seven emotional drives of the soul which parallel the G-dly energies of the seven Sefiros. Our emotional drives come from the heart.
The three cups at the top of each branch represent the three intellectual processes through which ideas are conceived, developed and internalised. These are the intellectual powers of Chochma, Binah and Daas which rest within the brain.
The cups facing downwards, illustrate how the three aspects of intellect pour their flow into each of the branches that make up our emotional experience.
Chassidus teaches that the human gift is that our mind rules over our heart, intellect over instinct. Our emotions should be mindful, directed by understanding and appreciation.
At the same time, our rational understandings should not remain abstract theory. When we learn about Hashem, we fill our minds with G-dly concepts. We have to channel these thoughts into a meaningful emotional relationship with Hashem.
The Menorah had seven branches. The central branch was the body of the Menorah itself. Three branches extended out from each side of the Menorah for a total of seven.
At the top of each branch was an oil cup. The cups were positioned so that the spouts for the wicks all pointed towards the middle lamp. This way all of the flames faced the central branch.
Chassidus explains that the seven lights of the Menorah represent the seven days of the week.
The central branch and focal point is Shabbos. The six weekdays represented by the six outer branches, all look towards Shabbos.
The three days leading up to Shabbos; Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, are referred to as the “days before Shabbos”. We live with the excitement and anticipation, making our spiritual and physical preparations for the Shabbos that is approaching,
Sunday, Monday and Tuesday are described as the “days after Shabbos”. We live with the upliftment and inspiration of the past Shabbos.
The middle flame is called the Ner Maaravi, the Western Lamp which miraculously burned longer than the others, testifying that Hashem’s presence rests amongst the Jewish people. Shabbos too is an eternal sign between Hashem and the Jewish people.
Wishing you a gut Shabbos.
On top of the Kapores, the cover of the Aron, stood two golden Keruvim. The Keruvim depicted the love between Hashem and the Jewish people.
According to the Zohar, one of the Keruvim was in the form of a man and the other was in the form of a woman.
When the Jewish people would visit the Beis Hamikdash for the Festivals, they would open the curtain of the Kodesh Hakodashim and show the Jewish people the Keruvim embracing one another. They would say “see how you are beloved to Hashem, like a woman is beloved to a man”. The love between husband and wife represents passionate desire.
According to the Gemara both Keruvim had the face of a man; one had the face of an adult and the other the face of a young child. This depicts Hashem’s love for the Jewish people using the analogy of a father and his son.
A parent’s love for their child is not based on their qualities and achievements. It is not based on what the child does and how they behave. The love of a parent to their child is an essential love because the child is a part of themselves, because it is their child. This is true for every child, but the younger the child, the more apparent it is. A newborn baby has no achievements to boast and yet we love them deeply.
At the deepest level of our relationship, the experience of the Kodesh Hakodashim, Hashem’s love for every Jew runs deeper than our observance of the Mitzvos. Every Neshama is part of Hashem Above. He loves us because we are part of Him.
One of the names used to describe the Kodesh Hakodashim, the holiest space within the Beis Hamikdash, is the Cheder Hamitos – literally the bedroom.
In their home, husband and wife interact in different rooms and settings. But in their bedroom they express and experience their exclusive bond in the most powerful way. There are no others and nothing outside of the relationship present. Here they are and truly one.
The purpose of the Beis Hamikdash is for Hashem’s presence to rest amongst the Jewish people, ושכנתי בתוכם. The relationship of Hashem and the Jewish people is likened to that of husband and wife.
We connect to Hashem and He unites with us through the various Temple services performed in the courtyards and chambers of the Beis Hamikdash. But the deepest union of absolute oneness between Hashem and His bride, is the experience of the Kodesh Hakodashim.
Like the Kodesh Hakodashim which lay deep within the Beis Hamikdash, deep inside of us, the essence of our soul, the Kodesh Hakodashim of our Neshama, is one with Hashem.
On Yom Kippur, the only day on which this room was accessed, we get to sense this deep oneness. Our Avodah is to draw it down and live with it every day in everything that we do.
Another name for the Beis Hamikdash is Beis Zevul. This name is connected to the tribe of Zevulun.
The tribe of Zevulun lived on the coast of Eretz Yisroel. They would sail the sea and engage in trade, leaving the borders and holiness of Eretz Yisroel.
And yet, the name Zevulun alludes to the Beis Hamikdash, the holiest site in the world.
Chassidus teaches that Hashem created the world because He desired a Dirah Betachtonim. He placed us in a lowly, physical world that seems distant from G-dliness so that we can transform it into a dwelling place for Hashem, where His presence is openly revealed.
Like Zevulun we travel outside of the borders of holiness, to go out into the world and engage with it. But it is with purpose, to transform the “outside” into a Beis Zevul, a sanctuary for Hashem.
Zevulun would inspire their non-Jewish business clients, bringing them closer to Hashem and an admiration for the Jewish people. Many of them would visit the Beis Hamikdash and ultimately convert to Judaism.
A businessman should see themselves as a Shaliach. In their business dealings, they have a unique ability to reach those whom others may not reach and inspire them to come closer to Hashem.