wood to keep the fire going
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.
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