The Copper Altar

HaShem told Bnei Yisrael, “Make a large Mizbei’ach out of wood, covered in pure copper outside in the yard that surrounds the Mishkan. This is where My people should bring animals to sacrifice. Build a ramp leading up to the fire at the top, and place rings on its sides, to hold poles, so it can be carried during travels.”
This “Outside Altar,” also known as the “Copper Altar,” was holy, and miracles happened there all the time. For example, even though it stood under the open sky in the courtyard of the Mishkan, rain never put out its fire.
“And now the forecast… Heavy rain, followed by more rain, and more rain, all over the place… besides for the outer court of the Mishkan. As usual, not even a single drop of rain fell in that area!”
Also, even when the wind blew, the smoke from the altar always rose in a perfectly straight column right up to the sky.
This Mizbei’ach was so important that much of the next Sefer, the book of VaYikrah, was dedicated to the laws of bringing sacrifices on this “Outside Altar.”

Sacred Shuls

Although today we don’t have a Mishkan or a Beis HaMikdash, we do have a “miniature Beis HaMikdash.” In fact, we have many of them.
Our great Rabbis tell us that every synagogue in the world is a “Mikdash Mi’at,” a mini Holy Temple, and should be treated with the same respect as Bnei Yisrael had for the portable Mishkan in the desert and the Beis HaMikdash in Jerusalem.
If you ever have the opportunity to go to the Kotel HaMa’aravi, the Western Wall, in Jerusalem, you can get a taste of that sense of awe and respect experienced by Bnei Yisrael in the days of the Mishkan and the Beis HaMikdash.

Holy Homes

It’s not just the Shul that is a Mini-Mishkan/Beis HaMikdash. Our homes are as well.
Here are some ideas:
· Once upon a time, the Korbanos on the Mizbei’ach used to bring holiness into the world. Now, our tables, when surrounded by people having lively conversations about Torah, accomplish the very same thing.

· We begin our Shabbos meal by dipping some Challah into salt – just like the Korbanos, which were always salted.

· Our tables are likened to a Mizbei’ach, which had to be built without any sharp iron tools, and that’s how the custom began to remove all the knives from the table before Bentching – Grace After Meals.

· Remember the 12 special loaves of bread that the Kohanim would place on the Shulchan every Shabbos? Well, some holy Tzadikim have a custom to have 12 loaves of Challah on their Shabbos tables! For simple people, like us at Shazak, it’s our custom to have two Challos, each made of 6 strands of dough – which equals 12 (6+6=12)!

· There was a special place in the Beis HaMikdash called the Lishkas Chasha’im (“the secret room”) where people would quietly leave money to be distributed among the poor. The Pushka (Tzedakah box) in every Jewish home is a continuation of this wonderful custom.

· Ever notice that Jewish homes have a lot of holy books, a.k.a. Seforim placed on a beautiful bookshelf? Perhaps that’s like the Sefer Torah and Luchos that were carefully stored in the Beis HaMikdash.


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