Ketores, and The Menorah- formula to fix the world

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    • Michal 1 year ago

      When saying the words of the Ketores section of the preparatory prayers, I was trying to understand why are the arrangements of the Menorah by Aharon placed together with Ketores?  What does Ketores have to do with the Menorah?

      וְהִקְטִיר עָלָיו אַהֲרֹן קְטֹרֶת סַמִּים בַּבֹּקֶר בַּבֹּקֶר בְּהֵיטִיבוֹ אֶת־הַנֵּרֹת יַקְטִירֶנָּה:וּבְהַעֲלֹת אַהֲרֹן אֶת־הַנֵּרֹת בֵּין הָעַרְבַּיִם יַקְטִירֶנָּה קְטֹרֶת תָּמִיד לִפְנֵי יְהֹוָה לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם

      And Aaron shall burn incense of spices upon it [the Altar] every morning; when he cleans the lamps he will burn it. And when Aaron lights the lamps in the afternoon, he will burn it; a constant incense-offering before Hashem throughout your generations.

      We know that the Ketores offering serves as a protection from Lashon Hara and atones for the sin of Lashon Harah derived from the snake, the Nachash.[1]  Ketores was used to actually stop a Mageifa, as anti-death.[2] Death is connected to Lashon Harah.[3]  And Ketores is also associated with death, as what happened with the sons of Aharon Hacohen.

      The light of the Menorah represents Torah.[4]

      I think we have an opportunity to transport ourselves to an existence of Gan Eden if we are Zoche to daven as a Ketores Offering.  The Menorah is the form of the Etz Hachaim. We have an opportunity to go back to the garden and  fix the mistakes.  It seems to me like a repositioning of some sort of the scene for us, our chance to enter the garden, and create a proper fence with the Ketores, using the one sense that never sinned in Gan Eden, the sense of smell.[5] Rabeinu Bachya says the sense of smell is associated with remembering.[6]  Remembering is the ability to connect to our Source , the opposite of disconnection or sin.

      How do we make the fence necessary for ourselves to be attached to Torah, and direct ourselves accordingly?

      The Ketores portion of prayer goes through a process of  carefully measuring spices with all sorts of calculations and diligent processing .. [7]

      I think if we can develop our Middos, defined as measured responses[8], based on Torah’s direction, we are fixing the sin and being Mikadesh Hashem’s name.  The sin included taking from the tree too fast, and without permission, implying the opposite of a measured response. Rashi said that they did not know the way of Tznius[9].[10]  Tznius is considered when one’s inside and outside are consistent.[11]  The development of measured responses is part of Tznius therefore, as it is processed and therefore appreciation of what one does, an expression of Kavod, as in כָּל־כְּבוּדָּה בַת־מֶלֶךְ פְּנִימָה, the pasuk associated with Tznius as per Rashi. Perhaps it  is when our internal response is of the daughter of The King; seeking to unify His Name to honor Him eternally is the ultimate tznius, when all we live for is to fulfill the directive :  כָּל מַה שֶּׁבָּרָא הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא בְּעוֹלָמוֹ, לֹא בְרָאוֹ אֶלָּא לִכְבוֹדוֹ, Whatever the Holy Blessed One created in His world, he created only for His Glory.  (Pirkei Avos, 6:11)

      May we all be zoche to respond with the Beautiful Voice of Torah, as our constant.

      שֶׁהַקּוֹל יָפֶה לַבְּשָׂמִים

      [1] ערכין ט״ז א:יט

      [2] רש”י על במדבר י״ז:י״א:א

      [3] משלי י״ח:כא

      [4] מדרש משלי ט׳:א

      [5] עירובין כ״א ב:ג

      [6] רבנו בחיי, בראשית א׳:א׳:ג

      [7] וְשׁוֹחֲקָן יָפֶה יָפֶה כְּדֵי שֶׁתְּהֵא דַקָּה מִן הַדַּקָּה

      [8] Magical Illuminations, Harav Simcha L Weinberg, n’’y

      [9] רש”י על בראשית ב׳:כ״ה:א

      [10] It is interesting to me that the word Rashi uses is “Derech ”, the same word used for Derech Etz Hachaim, the path or way of Torah. I believe it implies the necessity of Tznius to be one who can hear and express the voice of Torah.

      [11] Based on class taught by Harav Simcha L Weinberg, quoting the Meiri

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