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  • Yehuda Pevzner

Surprise Smell

The ketoret (incense) offering was perhaps the most prestigious service in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and in the Holy Temple. The ketoret consisted of a special blend of herbs and balms whose precise ingredients and manner of preparation were commanded by G‑d to Moses.


Throughout the year, the ketoret was burned twice daily on the golden or “inner” altar that stood within the inner section of Temple, distinct from the outdoor copper altar upon which animal sacrifices and libations were brought.

This week's reading, Acharei, begins with a detailed description of the service of the High Priest on Yom Kippur. The highlight of the Yom Kippur service was the High Priest entering the Holy of Holies with a pan of smoldering coals in one hand and a ladle filled with ketoret in the other, and then placing the ketoret over the coals and leaving once it was filled with the fragrant smoke.

Fragrance differs from the other five senses because it has a powerful ability to connect directly to one’s brain. Smell is always a surprise - it’s not something that you can prepare yourself for. When you are in the hallway of a room and you hear a loud noise, you can prepare yourself to see a large crowd. When you see a dish, you can already guess the taste.


In this world, we have the delight that comes from surprising ourselves. When one has a challenge, thinks there is no way to overcome it and yet, he does, that brings such joy and pleasure to him and to G-d.


Candle lighting time: 7:32 PM


Shabbat Shalom!