Vayikra 6:3 ויקרא ו׳:ג׳
1 א

ולבש הכהן מדו בד ומכנסי בד ילבש על בשרו והרים את הדשן. הודיענו בכאן שאף הרמת הדשן שהיא עבודה קלה צריכה בגדי כהונה, כי מדו בד הוא הכתונת, ואמר לשון מדו שתהא כמדתו, על בשרו שלא יהא דבר חוצץ בין הכתונת לבשרו, ולא בין המכנסים לבשרו, וגם אם היו מכנסיו קצרים ולא היו מגיעים עד רגליו ועבד בהן עבודתו פסולה. ומה שהזכיר אלה השנים בלבד כתונת ומכנסים, הוא הדין לשאר בגדים, כי כיון שהודיענו שהרמת הדשן צריכה בגדים למדנו בודאי שצריכה ארבעה בגדים בכהן הדיוט ושמונה בכהן גדול, וכן אמר בספרי, ילבש, להביא את המצנפת ואת האבנט.

ולבש הכהן מדו בד ומכנסי בד ילבש על בשרו והרים את הדשן, “The Priest shall put on his fitted tunic and he shall put on linen trousers on his flesh; he shall remove the ash.” The Torah here teaches that even such a seemingly inconsequential activity as removing the ash from the altar is considered as part of the sacrificial service. Were this not so it would not be necessary for the Priest to don the garments reserved for performing service in the Temple or Tabernacle.
When the Torah writes the word מדו, “its measurement,” the meaning is that the garments are to be fitted individually to each Priest according to his size. The words על בשרו mean that they are to be worn directly on the skin, no other matter is to be a חציצה, a screen or intervening object, between the trousers (or the tunic in the appropriate part of the priest’s body). Furthermore, if the trousers were short and did not reach until the Priest’s feet, if he did perform the service while wearing such attire it would be considered as unfit, i.e. invalid. Why did the Torah mention only two of the Priest’s four garments? The fact is that having mentioned these two garments it is understood that the כהן הדיוט, ordinary Priest, must wear his four garments, and the High Priest his eight garments, for any part of the service that he performs. This is made plain by Sifra Tzav 2,1. They deduce this from the word ילבש, “he must don, etc.”

2 ב

ויש לפרש עוד מדו, בגדיו, כמו (שמואל א י״ז:ל״ט) מעל למדיו, וכן (תהילים קל״ג:ב׳) על פי מדותיו, וא"כ יכלול לכל בגדי כהונה, וזהו שתרגם אונקלוס לבושין. ולמדנו מזה כי גם במצות הרמת הדשן שהיא עבודה קלה צוה הקב"ה שיתהדר בה הכהן לפניו שילבש בגדי כהונה ובהם ירים את הדשן, וכל זה הערה ודרך חיים לכל מי שמתקרב להקב"ה באחת מהעבודות, או מי שמתעסק באחת ממצותיה של תורה שיתהדר לפניו יתברך בעשותו אחת מכל מצות ה' שישפיל כבוד עצמו לכבוד הש"י אפילו בעבודה קלה שבהן. וכן דוד ע"ה אמר (תהילים נ״ז:ט׳) עורה כבודי עורה הנבל וכנור אעירה שחר, עורה כבודי אין כבודך חשוב כלום אצל כבוד קוני וכתיב (שמואל ב ו׳:י״ד) ודוד מכרכר בכל עז לפני ה', וכתיב (שם) ונקלותי עוד מזאת והייתי שפל בעיני וגו'.

One may also understand the very word מדו as referring to “garment,” such as when the word appears in Samuel I 17,39: מעל למדיו, “on top of his garment.” The word occurs in that context also in Psalms 133,2 על פי מדותיו, “over the top of his robe.” If that is the meaning of the word מדו here it automatically includes all of the Priest’s garments. Onkelos also translated the word as לבושין, “garments".
The ethical teaching of all this is that when performing sacred tasks, especially in the Temple, regardless of how demeaning the same task would be considered for a socially highly placed individual outside the sacred perecincts, one must wear the finest garments in order to enhance the reputation of the Lord in whose honour this whole service is being performed. If this holds true, we may learn that even when in the synagogue or the Yeshivah while studying Torah it is only elementary good manners vis-a-vis G’d whose Torah we study to be properly attired. We have learned from King David (Psalms 57,9) “awake, O my honour! Awake, o harp and lyre! I will waken the dawn.” David did not speak about “Your honour”, i.e. the Lord’s honour, but he spoke about his own dignity, honour. He adresses himself, admonishing himself that his honour and dignity are of no consequence at all. We know that he lived up to this when he danced in front of the Holy Ark so that even his wife Michal considered such behaviour as unseemly in a King (compare Samuel II 6,14). We have an additional verse on that subject by David in verse 22 of that same chapter where he explains to Michal: “and dishonor myself even more, and be low in my own esteem, but amongst the slave-girls that you speak of I will be honoured.”

3 ג

וידוע מדרך חכמת ההגיון כי האדם אינו נקרא עבד עד שיהיה לו אדון, ואין שם האדון ראוי אלא למי שיש לו עבד, והנה הם שני שמות אין אחד מהם קודם לחברו. וכיון שהאדם עבד להקב"ה ונתחייב לעבוד אותו אי אפשר שתהיה העבודה שלמה עד שיקבל העבד עליו כל מדות העבדות, והם ההכנעה והשפלות לפניו, לא שיתנהג לפניו במדת אדנות ושררה כי יהיה מבזה כבוד אדוניו, ואמר שלמה ע"ה (משלי כ״ה:ו׳) אל תתהדר לפני מלך, וכל שכן לפני מלך מלכי המלכים הקב"ה, לפי שהגאוה היא לבושו, וכענין שכתוב (תהילים צ״ג:א׳) ה' מלך גאות לבש, והעוטה לבוש המלך הרי הוא מבזה את המלך, ומפני זה הכהן העובד המיוחד לעבודת המקדש צוה לו הכתוב שירים את הדשן בכל יום שהיא עבודה קלה שבעבודות כדי שישפל ויכנע לפני הש"י. וכן מצינו בהלל הזקן כשהיה שמח בשמחת בית השואבה היה מרקד ואומר אם אני כאן הכל כאן אם אין אני כאן מי כאן, וגם רבן גמליאל וגדולי החכמים היו מרקדים שם בבהמ"ק והיו נוהגין בעצמן קלות ראש לכבוד שמים.

Logic teaches that one cannot be considered a “slave” until one has a master. Neither can the term “master” have meaning unless this master owns a slave. The two terms are mutually exclusive, one not having any meaning without the other. Seeing man is a servant of his Creator and is obligated to serve Him as his Master, his service cannot be described as being carried out properly until after he has formally accepted his status (conditions implied in that relationship) as servant. These conditions include submissiveness and an appropriate degree of humility. He is not to carry himself as if he were someone of authority and was in control of matters as this would be an insult vis-a-vis the honour and dignity of his Master. This is why Solomon writes (Proverbs 25,6): ”do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence.” If such advice is good advice, how much more so is it good advice when applied to one’s posture vis-a-vis the King of Kings, the Lord! G’d’s “garment” is “grandeur,” as we know from Psalms 93,1 “the Lord is king, He is robed in grandeur.” Anyone daring to wear the king’s robes is guilty of treating him with contempt.
Due to such considerations the Torah commanded the Priest who performs even such a relatively simple task as removing the ashes from the Altar to wear the appropriate garments when performing this task as he is, after all, G’d’s representative on earth. By performing such menial tasks, especially when dressed in garments testifying to his elevated status as Priest he humbles himself before his Master in heaven.
We find that when Hillel the elder, was engaged in celebrating the libations of water on the festival of Sukkot, he danced and said: אם אני כאן הכל כאן, אם אין אני כאן מי כאן? [when translated literally and superficially this statement seems like the height of arrogance, i.e. someone saying: “if I am here everybody and everything is here; if I am not here who is here?” Ed.] Of course, this is not what Hillel, famous for being self-effacing meant. He used the word אני as a pronoun for G’d, saying: “if G’d is present everybody (who counts) is present; if G’d is not present who is present?” He meant that there is no worthwhile presence other than the presence of G’d (compare Sukkah 53).
Rabban Gamliel, (President of the Sanhedrin, Hillel’s grandson) and his colleagues would dance in the courtyard of the Holy Temple and disport themselves in what we would call an undignified manner, all in honour of heaven, i.e. showing G’d that the decorous behaviour normally expected of them when fulfilling their functions vis-a-vis the people over whom they presided was not meant to accent their own importance but only to lend weight to the importance of the office to which they had been appointed. This is why they had to demonstrate to G‘d (in the presence of the people) that they themselves felt totally submissive and unimportant when compared to Him.

4 ד

וכבר ידעת שהקדושים שבבני ישראל היו בני לוי, ומנה אותן הכתוב שילכו אחרי העגלות שהוא מנוי קל אצל בני אדם, הוא שכתוב (במדבר ז׳:ו׳-ז׳) ויקח משה את העגלות ואת הבקר ויתן אותם אל הלוים, את שתי העגלות ואת ארבעת הבקר נתן לבני גרשון כפי עבודתם, ואת ארבע העגלות ואת שמונת הבקר נתן לבני מררי, נמצאת למד שחייב אדם למעט כבוד עצמו אצל כבוד שמים, וכן אמרו רז"ל הממעט בכבוד עצמו ומרבה בכבוד שמים כבוד שמים מתרבה וכבודו מתרבה, וכל המרבה בכבוד עצמו וממעט בכבוד שמים כבוד שמים במקומו עומד וכבודו מתמעט. ועל ענין זה מצינו שנענש יששכר איש כפר ברקאי שהיה מחלל קדשי שמים ומכבד עצמו, שכך דרשו רז"ל בפסחים בשלהי פרק מקום שנהגו, ארבע צוחות צוחה עזרה: ראשונה צאו מכאן בני עלי שטמאו היכל ה', עוד צוחה עזרה צא מכאן יששכר איש כפר ברקאי שהיה מכבד עצמו ומחלל קדשי שמים, מה הוה עביד כריך ידיו בשיראי ועביד עבודה, עוד צוחה שאו שערים ראשיכם ויכנס יוחנן בן נרבאי תלמידו של פנקאי וימלא כרסו מקדשי שמים. אמרו עליו על יוחנן בן נרבאי שהיה אוכל שלש מאות עגלים והיה שותה שלש מאות גרבי יין והיה אוכל ארבעים סאה גוזלות בקנוח סעודה, כל ימיו של יוחנן בן נרבאי לא נמצא נותר במקדש, עוד צוחה הביאו לי ישמעאל בן פאבי תלמידו של פנחס זיו של כהונה וישמש בכהונה גדולה על גבי המזבח. ומיד מזכיר שם עונשו של יששכר, זה דאמרי התם מלכא ומלכתא הוו יתבי, מלכא אמר גדיא יאי מלכתא אמרה אימרא יאי, אמרי מאן מוכח, כהן גדול, דקא מסיק בקרבנות כולי יומא, אתיוהו ליששכר אתא אחוי בידי, אמר אי גדיא יאי יסק לתמידא, אמר מלכא הואיל ולא הוה ליה אימתא דמלכותא לפסקוה לידא דימיניה, יהב יששכר שוחדא ופסקו לשמאליה, שמע מלכתא אמר דליהדור ולפסקוה לימיניה, א"ר יוסף בריך רחמנא דשקליה ליששכר למטרפסיה בהאי עלמא, כלומר כי טוב היה לו כשנטל עונשו בעולם הזה ממה שיענש לעולם הבא. וכן מצינו בשבנא אשר על הבית שהיה כהן כפי דעת מקצת רז"ל ממה שכתוב (ישעיהו כ״ב:כ״א) והלבשתיו כתנתך, ולפי שהיה מבזה הקרבנות נענש והרגו סנחריב מלך אשור, ועליו נאמר (שם) תמוש היתד התקועה במקום נאמן, והתנבא על פורענותו.
הענין השלישי הנס הגדול הנעשה במזבח, המזבח הזה הוא מזבח העולה היה של עצי שטים והיה מצופה נחשת כעובי דינר זהב והאש על המזבח תמיד לא תכבה לעולם, ולא היה הנחשת נתך ולא העץ נשרף, והיה נס גדול מי"ח נסים שהיו במקדש, ועל זה חזר בו פעם שנית והאש על המזבח תוקד בו לא תכבה שהרי כבר נאמר ואש המזבח תוקד בו, אלא בא לרמוז הנס הזה וכאלו אמר ראה דבר פלא הנעשה במזבח שהאש על המזבח תוקד בו לא תכבה והמזבח קיים.
הענין הרביעי גודל עונש הרשעים ביסורי גיהנם, ומזה הזכיר פעם שלישית אש תמיד תוקד על המזבח לא תכבה, לפי שהמזבח הוא מקום כפרה ורשעים לא בעו כפרה, רמז לך הכתוב שהם נדונין באשה של גיהנם באש תמיד מאחר שכפרו באש תמיד. והוא הענין עצמו שהיה ישעיה הנביא ע"ה מזהיר בו ומוכיח הרשעים הוא שאמר (ישעיהו ל״ג:י״ד) פחדו בציון חטאים אחזה רעדה חנפים מי יגור לנו אש אוכלה מי יגור לנו מוקדי עולם, היה מפחידם על אותו אש תמיד שבציון שכפרו בו ולא חזרו בתשובה ולא רצו כפרה, וזהו שמסיים בה הכתוב מי יגור לנו אש אוכלה מי יגור לנו מוקדי עולם, בא להפחיד על אשה של גיהנם שכתוב בה (שם סו) כי תולעתם לא תמות ואשם לא תכבה, כלשון האמור כאן תמיד לא תכבה.

You know that the Levites were the most “holy” tribe of the Israelites and that the Torah appointed them to walk behind the wagons transporting the components of the Tabernacle whenever the people were on the move. Walking behind the wagons was certainly a very minor kind of duty, something more appropriate to the least skilled and educated amongst the people. We read in Numbers 7,6-8: “Moses (personally) took the carts and the oxen and gave them to the Levites. Two carts and four oxen he gave to the Gershonites, as required for their service, and four carts and eight oxen he gave to the Merarites, as required for their service.” These verses teach you that a person (Moses as well as the Levites) has to “lower” his own dignity in order to accord honour to the Lord. These verses prompted our sages (Bamidbar Rabbah 4,20) to say “when someone does indeed diminish his own stature in order to enhance the stature of heaven then not only will heaven’s stature be enhanced through his actions but his own stature will be enhanced also. Conversely, if someone tries to enhance his own stature at the expense of heaven’s stature, his own stature will suffer whereas heaven’s stature remains unimpaired.”
In connection with this subject we find that a man by the name of Issachar, a resident of a village called Barkai, was punished as he was desecrating sacred property while bestowing honour upon himself. Our sages in Pessachim 57 speak of four indignities which occurred in the courtyard of the Temple. [The Talmud presents the matter as if the courtyard were a person and gave voice to its feelings. Ed.] The result of the first indignity was the expulsion of the sons of the High Priest Eli from the holy precincts because they had caused defilement inside those precincts with their conduct. A second occasion when the courtyard banned someone from its precincts was an incident involving this Issachar from the village of Barkai who had “used” the Temple to enhance is own stature at the expense of the sacred contents of the Temple. His sin consisted in the fact that he was too considerate of his own hands, wrapping them in silk before performing his priestly duties. A third occasion which provoked protest by the courtyard was when the courtyard called out protesting angrily שאו שערים ראשיכם, “raise your heads o gates and observe how Yochanan son of Narbai, disciple of Pankai enters the sacred precincts and stuffs his belly with the meat of the sacrifices.” They said of this man that he had a daily intake of 300 calves and that he drank three hundred jars of wine daily and had 40 measures of pigeons as dessert. [Whenever the number 300 appears in the Talmud it is a figure of speech employed to describe unbelievably big quantities. Ed.] They say furthermore that as long as this Yochanan son of Narbai was alive there was never any leftover sacrificial meat to which the law that it had to be burned needed to be applied. What happened to this Issachar from Barkai? Another person concerning whose conduct in the holy precincts the courtyard protested was a certain Yishmael son of Pabi, disciple of Pinchas whom the courtyard was instrumental in appointing as High Priest in lieu of the infamous Issachar. It happened once during his time that the king and queen sat at the table arguing whether the taste of a young goat or that of a young sheep was superior. The queen favoured the taste of the young sheep (lamb) whereas her husband the king preferred the taste of the kid (young male goat). In order to settle their argument they called in this Issachar and seeing that he had eaten plenty of either animal in his capacity as High Priest they asked him which tasted better. Thereupon this Issachar made a disrespectful motion with his hand indicating that the question was silly as if the goat’s meat were better surely the Torah would have stipulated that the daily public burnt-offering should consist of a male young goat. When the king observed that the High Priest had failed to observe good manners and had waved his hand about, he decreed that the offending hand of the High Priest be cut off. Issachar bribed the executioner to cut off his left hand instead of his right hand. When the matter of the bribe became known he lost his right hand also. Upon hearing about this, Rabbi Yossi asked his students the rhetorical question of what caused the High Priest Issachar to become a victim of such cruelty? The student Rabbi Ashi said that it was his failure to have studied the relevant Mishnah in which it is stated that sheep always take precedence over goats. Nonetheless, Rabbi Ashi added that he thanked the Lord who punished this Issachar in this world so that he could enter the hereafter having already paid his dues. This is not the only time that someone in Biblical times was punished while on earth in order to preserve his reward in the hereafter intact. During the period of the prophet Isaiah and King Chiskiyahu (compare Isaiah 22,15) there was a certain scribe by the name of Shevna who according to some scholars was also the High Priest. At any rate, he was a highly placed individual who, if not the High Priest, was in charge of the King’s palace. Seeing he had treated sacrificial offerings with disdain, he was killed by Sancheriv, King of Assyra. Concerning this Shevna the prophet Isaiah said quoting G’d: (Isaiah 22,25) “the peg fixed in a firm place shall give way.” Isaiah had prophesied his downfall and it had been fulfilled in his lifetime in order for Shevna’s merits for the hereafter to be preserved intact. [The nature of Shevna’s sin has been the subject of much disagreement. Our author’s assumption that he was remiss in his attitude to the Altar is difficult to substantiate. Ed.]
The third matter which this paragraph of the Torah teaches us is the great and ongoing miracle which was an adjunct of this Altar. We are speaking about the so-called copper altar which was overlaid with a sheet of copper the thickness of the coin called dinar in those days. The fire on top of the Altar never ceased to burn. Neither the wood underneath the copper was burned by the heat nor did the copper crack, melt, or otherwise lose its effectiveness. This was one of the 18 miracles which occurred in connection with the Tabernacle and the first Temple (they are listed in Pirke Avot chapter 5,7 and another eight in Yuma 21). The Torah draws attention to this miracle by repeating the fact that the fire on the Altar was never to go out. (verses 2 and 5). Seeing the Torah had already stipulated in verse 2 that the fire had to be kept going, what need was there to repeat this in verse 5? Clearly, what is a commandment in verse 2 is a promise in verse 5, i.e. the fire would never go out. Not only that, but the Altar itself would remain undamaged.
The fourth matter which this paragraph of the Torah teaches us is the magnitude of the punishment suffered by the wicked during their stay in gehinom. This explains why the fire on the Altar is mentioned a third time in our paragraph in verse 6., where the Torah writes: “a permanent fire shall remain aflame on the Altar; it shall not be extinguished.” Seeing that the purpose of the Altar is to secure atonement the wicked are not in line for such atonement because they had denied the power and function of the Altar and the sacrificial offering thereon. The Torah therefore hints by repeating this message about the never-dying fire that it is a hint to the wicked of what is in store for them. The prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 33,14) remonstrated with the people saying to them: “Sinners in Zion are frightened, the godless are seized with trembling; ‘who of us can dwell with the never-dying blaze?’” These sinners had become frightened of the very fire whose power they had been in the habit of mocking when they refused to repent and to accept atonement. This is also what the verse in Isaiah 33,14 is all about which means that the wicked are to be made afraid of the fires of gehinom concerning which it is written in Isaiah 66,24 that their worms shall not die, nor their fires quenched, they shall be a horror to all flesh.” The meaning of “it shall not be quenched” in Isaiah is parallel to the words “it shall not go out or die” in our verse here.

5 ה

וע"ד המדרש היא העולה זו רומי שהיא מתגאה ומעלה את עצמה. עוד שם כל מי שמתגאה ומעלה את עצמו סופו להיות נדון באש, שהרי דור המבול על שנתגאו ואמרו (איוב כ״א:ט״ו) מה שדי כי נעבדנו, נדונו באש, שנאמר (שם ו) בעת יזורבו נצמתו בחומו נדעכו ממקומם. אנשי סדום על שנתגאו שנאמר (יחזקאל ט״ז:מ״ט) הנה זה היה עון סדום אחותך גאון שבעת לחם ושלות השקט היה לה ולבנותיה, נדונו באש, שנאמר (בראשית י״ט:כ״ד) וה' המטיר על סדום ועל עמורה גפרית ואש. וכן פרעה ע"י שנתגאה ואמר (שמות ה׳:ב׳) מי ה' אשר אשמע בקולו, ואמר (יחזקאל כ״ט:ג׳) לי יאורי ואני עשיתני, נדון באש, שנאמר (תהילים י״ח:י״ד) וירעם בשמים ה' ועליון יתן קולו ברד וגחלי אש, וכתיב (שמות ט׳:כ״ד) ויהי ברד ואש מתלקחת. וכן סנחריב ע"י שנתגאה ואמר (מלכים ב י״ט:כ״ג) אני עליתי מרום הרים ירכתי לבנון וגו', נדון באש, שנאמר (ישעיהו י׳:ט״ז) ותחת כבודו יקד יקוד כיקוד אש. וכן בנבוכדנצר ע"י שנתגאה ועלה את עצמו ואמר (שם יד) אעלה על במתי עב אדמה לעליון, ואמר (שם) ממעל לכוכבי אל ארים כסאי, לפיכך נדונו חיילותיו באש. אתה מוצא שכשנכנסו לחנכת צלמא מנה הכתוב שמונה אומות, שנאמר (דניאל ג׳:ג׳) באדין מתכנשין אחשדרפניא סגניא ופחותא אדרגזריא גדבריא דתבריא תפתיא וכל שלטוני מדינתא, הרי שמונה, ובשניה אין שם אלא ארבעה אומות, שנאמר (שם) ומתכנשין אחשדרפניא סגניא ופחותא והדברי מלכא, ואינון ארבע אומות קטיל המון שביביא, די נורא. וכן לעתיד ע"י שמתגאה ומעלה את עצמה הוא שכתוב (עובדיה א׳:ד׳) אם תגביה כנשר ואם בין כוכבים שים קנך, לפיכך נדונו באש, שנאמר (דניאל ז׳:י״א) חזה הוית עד די קטילת חיותא והובד גשמה ויהיבת ליקידת אשא ע"כ במדרש.

A Midrashic approach (Tanchuma Tzav 2) to the words היא העולה, “it is the burnt-offering.” The reference is to the Roman Empire which is the most arrogant Empire, constantly aggrandizing itself. The same Midrash also states that anyone who aggrandizes himself will eventually be judged by fire. They base this on what happened to the generation of the deluge who had boasted of their own importance saying: (Job 21,15) “who is Shaddai that we should serve Him?” They were judged by fire as it is written (Job 6,17) ”when they thaw they vanish; in the heat they disappear where they are.” The people of Sodom were judged by fire because they were too proud, as we know from Ezekiel 16,49: “Only this was the sin of your sister Sodom: ‘arrogance!’ She and her daughters had plenty of bread and untroubled tranquillity; “ they were judged by fire as we know from Genesis 19,24: “G’d caused it to rain on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire.” Pharaoh was also judged by fire seeing he was so arrogant and had said: “who is Hashem that I should listen to Him?” (Exodus 5,2). He had also claimed: “the river Nile belongs to me and I have created it!” (Ezekiel 29,3). We know that he was judged by fire from Psalms 18,14: “Then the Lord thundered from heaven, the Most High gave forth His voice, hail and fiery coals.” We have also been told in Exodus 9,24: ”there was hail which contained fire within it.” Another arrogant king who was punished by fire was Sancheriv who had boasted (Kings II 19,23) “it is I who have climbed the highest mountains, to the remotest parts of Lebanon, and have cut down its tallest cedars, its choicest cypresses.” He was judged by fire as we know from Isaiah 10,16 ”and under its body (כבודו) shall burn a burning like that of fire, destroying frame and flesh.” Something similar happened to boastful Nebuchadnezzar who had been arrogant enough to proclaim (Isaiah 14,14): I will mount the back of a cloud- I will match the Most High.” He had also said (verse 13): “I will climb to the sky higher than the stars of G’d.” Furthermore, he had said: (Ovadiah 4) that he would ascend beyond the stars. As a result of such boastful statements by their king, his soldiers were burned by fire.
When you check Daniel 3,3 where the preparations for the inauguration of Nebuchadnezzar’s giant golden image are described, mention is made of eight nations, i.e. you will find the names: Adragozariah and seven others. When mention is made of the celebration a second time, i.e. in verse 27, we find that 4 of these nations are no longer mentioned. The Talmud Sanhedrin 92 suggests that the other four nations (i.e. their honour guards representing them at Nebuchadnezzar’s court) had been burned to death. According to Rashi it was the same fire which consumed the men heating the kiln into which Chananyah, Mishael and Azaryah were to be thrown.” Thus far the Midrash [approximately. Ed.]

6 ו

ומה שהזכיר צו את אהרן ואת בניו הקדים הכתוב אהרן לבניו לפי שבכל סדר ויקרא כתיב וזרקו בני אהרן, וערכו בני אהרן, ואהרן לא הוזכר שם שנתרחק על מעשי העגל, אמר משה לפני הקב"ה רבש"ע באר שנואה ומימיה חביבין, אם לעצים חלקת כבוד בשביל בניהם דתנן כל העצים כשרין למערכה חוץ משל זית ושל גפן, ק"ו לאהרן בשביל בניו, לכך נאמר צו את אהרן ואת בניו הקדים אהרן לבניו.

When the Torah in our paragraph wrote: “command Aaron and his sons,” this is very unusual as throughout the Portion of Vayikra we find Aaron’s sons mentioned instead of their father such as: “the sons of Aaron shall throw, etc.” (Leviticus 1,14), or “the sons of Aaron will (arrange) prepare” (Leviticus 1,8.). The reason that in these instances Aaron was ignored is still the fallout from his part in the making of the golden calf. When Moses became aware of this he said to G’d: “how can a well be hated whereas the water it produces is well beloved?” If You G’d have honoured the wood (to be used on the Altar) on account of its offspring as we know from Tamid 2,3 that all kinds of logs are suitable to be used as kindling on the Altar with the exception of olive wood and the wood of the grape vine, surely Aaron should be admitted on the Altar if only on account of the fine sons he had produced!” When our portion starts with the words: “command Aaron and his sons,” etc., this reflects G’d’s response to Moses’ plea on behalf of his brother.

7 ז

ועל דרך השכל זאת תורת העולה היא העולה ירמוז הכתוב על מעלת הנפש השכלית וכאלו אמר זאת תורת הנפש העולה היא העולה, בזכות התורה שנקראת היא, שנאמר (משלי ג׳:י״ח) עץ חיים היא למחזיקים בה, וכתיב (תהילים י״ט:ח׳) תורת ה' תמימה משיבת נפש, כלומר נפש לשרשה. על מוקדה על המזבח, בא לבאר על מעלת הנפש המשכלת שהיא עולה על מעלת הגלגלים ועל מעלת המלאכים, כי מלת על מוקדה כוללת הגלגלים ומלת על המזבח כוללת כל המלאכים. ופירוש על מוקדה כאילו אמר על האש, כאמרו (ישעיהו י׳:ט״ז) יקד יקוד כיקוד אש, ורוצה לומר על האש, על השמש, כי גלגל השמש מניע יסוד האש כשם שגלגל הלבנה מניע יסוד המים. והנה המלך שלמה ע"ה שכל דבריו בספר קהלת היו תחת השמש הזכיר בענין הנפש (קהלת ג׳:ט״ז) העולה היא למעלה כלומר למעלה מהשמש שהוא על מוקדה.

A rational/investigative approach to the words: “this is the law of the burnt-offering; it is the burnt-offering, etc.” The Torah here alludes to the superior nature of the soul, the intellectual part of man. The words may be understood as if the Torah had written: “this is the superior nature of the soul which is constantly ascending on account of the input by the Torah which is the subject of the pronoun היא “she” in our verse.” There are numerous instances in the Bible where the Torah is referred to by the pronoun היא, such as in Proverbs 3,18 עץ חיים היא למחזיקים בה, or in Psalms 19,8 תורת ה' תמימה משיבת נפש, i.e. that the soul is enabled to return to its Maker thanks to the Torah it has studied.
על מוקדה על המזבח, these words are also an allusion to the lofty nature of the intellectual part of man which is able to rise beyond the world of the planets and which is superior even to the attributes with which angels have been equipped. The word מוקדה, is reminiscent of the world of the planets whereas the word מזבח, alludes to all the angels. We could understand the. words על מוקדה as if the Torah had written על האש, “above the fire,” such as in Isaiah 10,16: “and it wastes away on account of the heat.” [The heat described is fever burning up man’s flesh. Ed.] Our author understands the word אש in this verse as a reference to the sun, i.e. the soul will rise higher than the sun. He views the sun as the immediate cause of all movements involving fire. In a similar way he views the moon as the origin of all influences on the motion of water.
King Solomon, who, in his Book Kohelet 1,9, describes all the things in this world as being תחת השמש, “beneath the sun,” makes an exception when he refers to the soul (רוח), and describes it as ascending beyond that domain, i.e. העולה היא למעלה, “which ascends on high” (Kohelet 3,21). In other words, the spiritual-intellectual part of man has access to regions above the sun which itself serves as a model for the entire planetary system in Solomon’s summation.

8 ח

וידוע כי גלגל השמש כולל הגלגלים כולם בהיותו אמצעי, ובכל הדברים כולן עקר הדבר אמצעיתו, ובא לרמוז כי הנפש למעלה ממעלת הגלגלים. ובאמרו על המזבח הוא כנוי על מעלת המלאכים, ומלת מזבח שם כולל להם, לפי שכשם שהמזבח מקום מיוחד לקרבנות שהם רצון ה' יתעלה, וכמו שכתוב ריח ניחוחי, ותרגומו לאתקבלא ברעוא, ואמר הכתוב (ישעיהו נ״ו:ז׳) לרצון על מזבחי, כן המלאכים קרבין אליו לעשות רצונו וגבורי כח לשמוע בקול דברו. ובאמרו כל הלילה עד הבקר בא לבאר באיזה זכות היא עולה ובמה כחה זה על מעלת הגלגלים והמלאכים, בזכות שהיא עוסקת בתורה כל הלילה עד הבקר שהיא מתעלה ומשבחת כל ימי היותה בגוף שהוא חשך ואפלה עד הבקר כלומר עד שתפרד ממנו ותשוב אל בית אביה כנעוריה שהוא הבקר האמתי שלה, בקר לא עבות, כאומרו ואש המזבח תוקד בו הכוונה לומר כי עם היות אש המלאכים יוקדת ואשן גדולה וחזקה, היא העולה על כולן, וזה על דרך מאמר רז"ל גדולים צדיקים יותר ממלאכי השרת.

In Solomon’s time the sun was viewed as the central planet, the middle one out of a total of seven. As such it is considered symbolic of the essence of the system as Solomon always counsels that man take the “middle path,” stay away from extremes, from fringes.
When the Torah continues with the word על המזבח this is a simile for the lofty spiritual niveau of the angels, the expression מזבח being a term including all of the angels, the species, so to speak. Just as the altar on earth is a site for the sacrifices which express G’d’s goodwill towards man seeing G’d Himself describes the sacrifices as ריח ניחוחי which Onkelos translates as “that which I accept with goodwill” (Numbers 28,2), so all that the angels are doing is to congregate around G’d in order to carry out His will and to listen to His instructions (compare Psalms 103,20).
When the Torah continues speaking about כל הלילה עד הבוקר, “all night long until morning,” this is an explanation of the merit which enables man’s soul to ascend to these lofty spiritual regions, and what it is that enables it to soar so high above the domain of both the planetary system and that of the angels. The merit is the preoccupation with Torah and its precepts. It is presumed that the fact that the soul is imprisoned in a body in this terrestrial world is equivalent to its residing in the “night,” i.e. לילה. If the soul will spend the time it is imprisoned in a night-like earth by devoting itself to Torah until בוקר, until morning, i.e. until it is released from that imprisonment, then it will soar to regions above those inhabited by the angels, even. The “morning” the Torah speaks of here is a morning which does not bring with it disappointments (compare Samuel II 23,4 where David extols such a morning describing it as “without clouds”).
When the Torah continues with ואש המזבח תוקד בו, ”and the fire of the Altar shall be kept aflame on it,” the meaning is that notwithstanding the fact that the “fire” of the angels is very strong and powerful, the “fire” of the righteous described outclasses even that of the angels.

9 ט

וע"ד הקבלה היא העולה, כמו והיא מתהלכת, והיא המדה המתעלה אל המקום אשר חוצבה משם, ממנה תתחיל מחשבת המקריב, וכבר הזכרתי ענין זה בפרשת ויקרא.

A kabbalistic approach: The words היא העולה may be understood as והיא מתהלכת, “it keeps progressing,” (compare Ezekiel 1,13, i.e. “it made progress amongst all these chayot spiritual, disembodied beings”). The Torah describes a virtue which commences the ascent of the soul towards the “quarry” in heaven from which it was originally “hewn. The process is set in motion with the thoughts of the person offering the sacrifice. (Compare author’s comments on Leviticus 1,9 last paragraph and this Editor’s translation).