In this week’s Parsha, Parshas Tetzaveh, we pick up from where we left off last week discussing the building of the Mishkan. In Parshas Terumah, Hashem commanded for a copper mizbeach (altar) to be built, upon which to bring the animal sacrifices. Tetzaveh continues, commanding Moshe to erect an additional mizbeach, this time made of gold, upon which will be offered the ketores (incense). These two mizbechot possessed a unique characteristic that no other Keili in the Mishkan possessed: they could not become spiritually impure. Since we know that every detail of the Torah can be made practical to our own personal lives, there must be some significance to the mizbeachs' interesting feature. The concept of constructing a mishkan in general is explained to also apply to each individual, as one must strive to make their bodies and lives an eligible structure to receive Godliness. The specific vessels within the mishkan, or our bodies, are tools through which we serve G-d. For example, the head is used to learn Torah, the hands are used to put on Tefillin, the feet are used to visit a sick person, etc. However, when these vessels are used for inappropriate and impure reasons, they can become impure, requiring teshuvah. We see, though, that the mizbeach, which is reflective of the acceptance of the Torah in a manner devoid of ego and personal existence, can never descend into impurity. This is because the inermost quintessential part of the neshama, which is serving G-d with complete self nullification, never loses its purity. A Jew, at their essence, is still eternally and completely attached to G-d, and though teshuva is sometimes required to fix the more superficial aspects of our relationship, we are never truly detached from our source, Hashem.
By: Herschel Karp (12th)