Parshat Tzav – The Persistence of the Altar’s Fire


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 alterDuring the days of the ancient Jewish kingdom in Israel, the focal point of the nation was the Temple.  The Temple was a place where the glory of God was revealed on a daily basis; our Rabbis teach us that ten ongoing miracles took place there.  One of those miracles was that regardless of how much it may have rained, the rain was never successful in extinguishing the fire that was always present on the altar.

Rabbi Chaim Ickovits (Volozhin, 1749 –1821) points out that this miracle is puzzling, since God is omnipotent.  Why would He choose to cause rain to fall on the altar and then prevent the rain from extinguishing the fire, instead of not allowing it to rain in the area of the altar in the first place?

Rabbi Ickovits explains that God wanted us to learn an important lesson from the altar’s fire; despite any deterrents thrown at it, the rain_cloudfire refused to be extinguished and burned as brightly as before.  So too, in our own lives, we may decide to institute important projects and promote important causes.  But then the rains begin; be it simply naysayers or actual challenges that must be overcome, we often find ourselves with numerous excuses not to follow through on our plans.  The altar’s fire teaches us that come what may, we must make sure to persevere.


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