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Acharei Mot: Safra DiTziyuta D’Yaakov: Menorah & Ketoret

The 6th of Nisan is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Yaakov Temerlis (1668). Borns in Worms, he traveled to Lublin and then  Kremenitz, Poland. Late in life, he moved to Vienna. His sefarim included Sifra DiTzniyusa DeYaakov, a kabbalistic commentary on the Torah.


There is a special relationship between lighting the Menorah and offering the Incense on Yom Kippur, the day on which the Ketoret is also offered inside the Holy of Holies. Whenever we speak of the light of the Menorah we go back to the original creation of light, when God said, “Let there be light.” That light was the potential of all creation, as Rashi says all was created in potential on the first day, the day of Light. That light, the light of potential, is the most powerful expression of Chesed, Life Force, in creation. The light of the Menorah shines the light of Chesed throughout the Holy.

On Yom Kippur, that power of Chesed is brought into the Holy of Holies to nurture the atonement of the day. The Ketoret absorbs the Chesed of the Menorah, and is therefore able to bring this highest Chesed into the Holy of holies. When it is placed on the coals and the smoke spread, the Chesed spreads and is absorbed into the love between the two Cherubim atop the Ark; the love of God for Israel. The Chesed nurtures the love and brings atonement.

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