Roy Neuberger - Mar. 13, 2020

We have entered the days of our Redemption, the month of Adar, when the earth becomes warm, the sap begins to flow and brilliant flowers appear. This is the time of greatest hope. Even though we are beset with danger, we are also filled with hope.

My friends, it is important to keep in mind that redemption comes precisely when we are released from danger. During Purim, we were saved from Haman; during Pesach we were freed from Mitzraim. In this Parsha, we plunge suddenly into the darkness of the eigel (the golden calf). How will we be saved?

“Hashem said to Moshe: Take yourself spices ….” (Exodus 30:34).

“Among all the sacrifices that were offered in the Holy Temple, none was as precious before G-d [as ketores] …. The incense… was an enlightened remedy to purify people from sin. Whoever smelled the fragrance of the incense … would have thoughts of repentance. His heart would be purified of all evil thoughts and from the defilement of the Evil Inclination…. The incense had the power to break and subjugate the power of the Evil Inclination… In the time of plague there is no remedy better than the ketores. This was a gift that the Angel of Death gave Moses when he went on High to receive the Torah.” (Yalkut Meam Loez)

Rashi says ketores is “the dearest of all the korbanos (offerings brought on the altar)!” (Numbers 16:6)

Our rabbis tell us, “[Moshiach] sniffs and judges,” (Sanhedrin 93b), meaning that he will have the power to judge innocence and guilt through a highly refined ability to “smell” the truth.

I want to suggest that the sense of smell is the most “innocent” of all the senses. We are warned in the Shema not to follow our eyes, which easily lead into sin. Touch and taste are also very dangerous. But smell …? Granted that the perfume makers want to allure us, but I would say that smell is somehow less dangerous than other senses. Why?

My friends, every Motzae Shabbos (Saturday night) we inhale the aroma of spices, which reminds us of our soul, because Hashem “blew into [man’s] nostrils the breath of life.” (Genesis 2:7) The organ of smell is the passageway for life itself.

Our Father Avraham found the Cave of Machpaila because he followed the scent of the Garden of Eden which emanated from there. (Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer 36)

My friend who lives in California grew up in a Manhattan apartment building. Recently, he wanted to show his wife the place of his childhood. So, after some fifty years, he returned to that venerable building. As he entered the elevator, suddenly old memories flooded back. He was a child again! What happened? He had inhaled the aroma emanating from the wood of that old elevator!

Aroma is powerful. We have to try to sense the aroma of the Garden of Eden in this polluted world. We have to know that purity is attainable, and we can find its source just as Avraham Avinu found the Cave of Machpaila in a world polluted with idolatry. This pure aroma can save us, just as the ketores saves from death. One who desires to return to the Garden of Eden will not be overwhelmed by impurity.

May we all inhale the pure aroma of the ketores, when Hashem rebuilds the Holy Temple soon in our days!



Prayers at the Cave of Machpaila


Recent Posts


Lot Noah prayer book Europe Leah idol rosh chodesh death Shechina Shabbos Sea of Galilee Lunar eclipse eternal world to come minyan Day of Atonement Rome Garden of Eden Zohar purity Repentence Hasmoneans Babylon Song of Songs sun incense Golan brotherhood Jewish festival Rebecca yeshiva God terrorists Amalek heavenly throne siddur Raiders of the Lost Ark violence Elul Maccabeans Blame Sages holiday leprosy Holy land ancestors Moshaich idolatry night Isaiah Sukkos Magog bible Bilaam David Holocaust Hagar fear Banias earthquake resurrection Rashi Chol haMoed redeemer spies Sarah Ishmeal tremors Zion Exodus Maimonides Western Wall Temple Mount Sukkah Moab Egypt fault Terror Attack in Jerusalem priests Torah scholars fragrance shofar G-d Ruth Malbim creation Eve Judah light New Moon heaven Talmud pray mikveh America logic King Solomon Canaan Jewish Red Heifer Beit Hamikdash holy tears flood missiles eternity Tefillin chessed menorah miracle United Nations Abraham Children of Israel stones Miriam persecution Israel three weeks cholent Babylonia blessing Temple Protective edge patriarchs'matriarchs Ezekiel heavenly gates Pharaoh Yaakov Samuel Day of Judgement tablets Ishamael sacrifices terror enemies mitzva miracles Judgement Day Samuel the Prophet Midrash Western World Jacob chaos Jews Passover Seder redemption slavery slaves automobiles Passover darkness Divine presence gossip Hashem messiah fires tabernacle Father in Heaven Golus survival Galil Hebrew self-worship Second Temple kinneret cries Land of Israel prophet Torah portion Geula Chanukkah song Ishmael prayers paradise Sabbath soul deluge Sefiras haOmer liberation Sephardi Rebbe materialism End of Days meraglim evil Abrahem shield of Abraham bird terrorism Eglon Master of the Universe danger Bais Hamikdosh Matriarchs commandment Mount Hermon Mount Sinai hubris bris milah Haman Faith Jewish holidays Moshiach prophet Samuel Rachel ethics salvation Macabees kesuba matzos prophets Jewish People mikveh, Sabbath Matisyahu Holy Temple Torah stars Jerusalem Angel of Death Benjamin Greeks Dead Sea Psalms Solar eclipse Chofetz Chaim Achashveirosh Chafetz Chaim peace shmittah culture Joseph king Heavenly Mercy Ten Commandments Adam Psalm kosher Mordechai prayer Edom angels High Holy Days Tallis compassion Earth Yom Kippur Rabbi Akiva Ashkenazi Yerushalayim Moshe Genesis Chanukah Baku Jeremiah Nation of Israel repent Tu b'Shvat secret Rabbis King of the Universe war Prophecy locusts Amram Moses alone pain trees Solomon Zion, Angel kiddush Pinchas media rain Teshuva Miraglim lights Jew Shushan esrog Parsha yarmulke High Priest Zechariah forefathers 2020 Vision evil inclination Rosh Hashana synagogue Laban keys evolution spiritual murder Avraham Esther Aharon seder Gog barley sin patriarchs Tzuk etan India Final redemption Purim Tu b'Av Ammon Rosh Hashanah terrorist exile water rabbi biblical Tisha b'Av Balak Red Sea moon Holy Ark Boaz mitzvos plague Isaac Mount Zion sanctity Golden Calf Esau Shavuos spirituality Sodom Holiness repentance judgement angel Creator King David dreams Judaism