weekly Torah reading: parasha Ki Tisa 5783
“The L-RD said to Moses: Take for yourself – spices – stacte, onycha, and galbanum – spices and pure frankincense.” – Exodus 30:34
The incense was offered every day in the morning, and in the afternoon. The incense fragrance connotes the understanding that we are to serve G-d in a pleasing manner; inasmuch that we are His servants, it is our responsibility to please Him. Moreover, He would like us to develop the inward desire to serve Him. This is reflected in the two ways of obeying His commandments – out of fear (awe, reverence, and respect), and out of love.
To observe His commandments out of reverence, requires acknowledgment of H’Shem as “the L-rd thy G-d who brought you out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 20:2). Accepting the sovereignty of H’Shem is primary; once we accept His authority, then the commandments follow as divine decrees (Baal Halachos Gedolos).
Lifting up our hearts to Him will help us to develop ahavah (love) for Him. In serving Him out of love, we are commanded to love him with an undivided heart (Sifrei), as is written, “thou shalt love H’Shem thy G-d with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). Moreover, Maimonides writes, “Once a person loves G-d appropriately, he will fulfill the commandments out of love” (Hilchut Teshuva 10:2).
Both love and fear are necessary, like the wings of an eagle; for without fear (awe, reverence, respect), there is not the proper attitude conveyed towards Him. Without love, we may not be able to fly towards Him, higher and higher on our journey; yet, we continue climbing, as it is, for we will reach Him with dveykus: constant clinging to His Essence.