Parashat Tetzaveh continues the instructions about the Tabernacle, the traveling sanctuary that the Jewish people used while they were in the desert (and during the first 400 years in the land).

The depiction of the Mishkan…is also a description of the soul….

Great scholars of the Torah understood that the depiction of the Tabernacle and its instruments is also a description of the soul and its strengths. Just as the purpose of the Tabernacle was as a dwelling place for G‑d on this plane, so also the body is a dwelling place for a portion of G‑d here below, that which we call the soul. By understanding the Tabernacle, we acquire insight how most effectively to fulfill our spiritual purpose.

In the Tabernacle were two altars: a larger one of copper in the outer section, meant for the animal offerings, and a smaller one of gold in the innermost partition, for the spice offerings. Only a specific spice offering was permitted on the inner altar, and, furthermore, the priest at the time of the incense offering was required to remain inside and totally alone.

The two different altars…reflect the different levels of love within man…

The altar is associated with the service of the heart from which our love of G‑d is based. The Rebbe of Lubavitch explains how the two different altars and their different purposes reflect the different levels of love within man.

More specifically, there are some things that require of a person a more superficial interaction, less intense emotional involvement, and some that need the full flaming enthusiasm of the total strength of the soul.

No matter how much we focus on "spiritual power", some things do not change. The body is a gift from G‑d. A person has to eat and drink, sleep and rest, care for their body and take the time for a stroll in the fresh air. This is by no means "being seduced by the desires of the world". Rather, a person has to see these actions as part of his spiritual service, as the verse says, "In all of our ways we should know Him". (Proverbs 3:6) This is holy work. And therefore you might think that we have to invest our all in it.

The Torah addresses this concern, and says the organs and the fats, representing our physical needs, are only offered on the external altar. This teaches us that our physical needs and our worldly concerns should be dealt with only in the external level of the heart, without going nuts over it.

The inner altar is used only for the spice offering…

The inner heart, true enthusiasm and total investment, has to be saved for more important things, the study of Torah, prayer and the pure service of the commandments. The Torah warns us that the inner altar should not be used for the "daily" offerings. The inner altar is used only for the spice offering, something that is consumed completely and is elevated to holiness, with little or no waste left behind.

And the Torah adds even more. At the time that the spice offering was being made, the one who offered it needed to be alone in the tent, he and G‑d alone. This is the most important point. What is appropriate for the inner heart has to be done for the Almighty only, without any other motivations, without any fanfare or publicity. It is only in this way that the offering will be fully accepted and the Divine Presence will be able to dwell in us.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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