By: Judah Joseph
’ועשית את המזבח עצי שטים המש אמות ארך וחמש אמות רחב רבוע יהיה המזבח ושלש אמות קמתו. ועשית קרנתיו על ארבע פנתיו ממחו תהיין קרנתיו וצפית אתו נחשת.’ (שמות כז: א–ב)
“You shall make the Altar of acacia wood, five cubits in length and five cubits in width – the Altar shall be square – and three cubits in height. You shall make horns on its four corners; from it shall its horns be, and you shall cover it in copper” (Shemot 27: 1-2)
We learn from pesukïm like the one above (and others throughout this portion of the Torah) that two mizbachïm were fashioned for the nomadic Jews. One was covered in copper and left in the outer courtyard, and one was enveloped in gold and placed in the inner courtyard. I once learned that the two Altars were symbolic of man; the copper mizbe’ach represented man’s body, and the golden mizbe’ach represented man’s soul. The passing Jew could, at the time of the mishkan, see the copper Altar, but he couldn’t see the golden one, which directly symbolizes how we can see each other’s body but not each other’s soul. Gold is more valuable than copper, as our soul, which serves us in both this world and next, is more important than our physical bodies. This concept serves as another example of the parallelism with man’s body and soul and the copper and gold mizbachïm. Let’s learn a lesson from the Altars and remember that our personal “mizbachïm”, although only partly visible to our fellow man, are both seen by God. Let’s let the radiance of our soul, our golden mizbe’ach, shine through our actions and mannerisms, setting a prime example of what the Jewish people represent!