Burning Fats, Fueling Flames – Parashat Tzav

March 22, 2018 at 1:11 AM , , ,

“…A continuous fire shall burn upon the altar; it shall not be extinguished…” – Vayikra 6:6

אֵשׁ תָּמִיד תּוּקַד עַל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ לֹא תִכְבֶּה – ויקרא ו, ו

In addition to the obligation stated explicitly in this verse, namely, to maintain a constant fire on the Outer Mizbeiach, the Talmud sees in this verse an allusion to yet another “continuous fire” — the fire of the menorah.

We are commanded to kindle the menorah in the Mishkan and Beis Hamikdash continually, every single evening (Shemos 27:20). This “continuous fire,” says the Talmud (Yoma 45b), must be kindled from the fire burning on the Outer Mizbei’ach. This is the learned from the verse, “A continuous fire shall burn upon the altar” – the fire of the menorah, which must be kindled continually, shall be lit from the fire of the altar.

What is the significance of this requirement?


The kindling of the menorah represents Torah study (see Mishlei 6:23), and like the continuous kindling of the menorah, a Jew’s obligation of Torah study is also constant. To succeed in Torah study, however, one must be ready to sacrifice.

“He whose heart inspires him to fulfill this mitzvah in a fitting manner and to become crowned with the crown of Torah,” writes the Rambam (Hilchos Talmud Torah 3:6-9), “must remove the desires and pleasures of the times from his heart.” In order to maintain the devotion required for success in Torah study, one must entirely abandon his pursuit of the material.

This ideal is hinted by lighting the menorah from the Outer Mizbei’achthe altar upon which that the bloods and fats of the animal sacrifices were offered to G-d. This signifies that to fuel the continuous fire of Torah study, represented by the fire of the menorah, our delight, excitement, and heated passion must be wholly “consumed” in the pursuit of G-dliness, the fire of the Altar.

—Reshimas HaMenorah, pp. 124-125



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