Our holy Torah is timeless. It is not limited to any specific time, place, or circumstance. Yet, there are certain commandments that were in effect only when we had the MishkanTabernacle — or in the Beit Hamikdash. Since, unfortunately, we lack the Temple service today, we do not practice some of these laws. Nevertheless, we continue studying them in anticipation of Mashiach at which time we will have the third Beit Hamikdash.

Moreover, regardless of the contemporary relevance of the literal meaning of the Torah verses, we derive lessons from the law and its particulars that are applicable at all times.

One such example is a commandment in the Parshah of Tzav that states “The fire on the Altar shall be kept burning on it; it shall not be extinguished” (6:5). The Jerusalem Talmud (Yoma 4:6) comments “af bemaso’ot — “also while they traveled.”

The Midrash (Rabbah Vayikra 7:5) observes that the Mizbei’ach — Altar — of Moshe’s Tabernacle was used for about 116 years, and was relocated to various places. So even when the Mizbei’ach was in motion and in the midst of traveling, the fire constantly burned on it.

Permit me to share with you the implications of this law in many facets of our life as a message to you, dear Chatan and Kallah.

The problems resulting from double standards are serious ones. How many people act one way on the outside and differently on the inside! You know and I know of people who run strictly kosher homes but who are lax when eating out or on vacation, etc. There are people who are meticulously observant with the rituals in shul but who have a different set of rules and halachot when out in the world of business. Unfortunately, a person, at times, may be the paragon of virtue, morality and devotion in his own community, but maintain a second set of standards when “on the road.”

Torah stresses that a single standard of values must be maintained. Thus, we say a few times a day in the Shema that the same Torah applies and should be taught to posterity “Beshivtecha bebeitecha” — “When you sit in your home” and also “Belechtecha baderech” — “When you are going on the road.”

This, in essence, is the message of the commandment. We are instructed that “the flame on the Mizbei’ach should be kept glowing and burning brightly af bemasa’ot” — not just when we are home but also when removed from it.

To you, my dear loving couple, I also stress a few aspects where this applies.

You have merited to have seen a vibrant Judaism in your childhood homes and schools. Make sure that af bemasa’ot — now when you move out of your parent’s homes, the same warmth and fervor for Torah and Yiddishkeit you were taught should be present in the home you will be establishing and practiced by you in the world at large.

An American tendency is for young couples to move to new developing communities. In the old neighborhood, Yiddishkeit thrived and flourished, so make sure that af bemasa’ot — also in the new neighborhood—you will be trailblazers and see to it that the standards are no less than what you were accustomed to.

Finally, there is one more message I want to impart, which is more of a blessing than a message. Our holy texts equate the Mizbei’ach with the heart of a person. It is the place that is analogous to the fire on the Altar — our emotions are glowing in their full strength. As you stand under the Chuppah there is a fire of love for one another burning in your hearts. To you, dear Chatan, your Kallah is the most important person in the world and you will do anything and everything for her, and vice versa: You, dear Kallah, have the same reciprocal feelings for your Chatan.

May it be G‑d’s will, that the warmth, love, dedication and admiration burning this very moment so brightly within your respective Altars — hearts — continue on with the same vitality af bemasa’ot — throughout the journey of life that you are embarking upon together “biz 120.”


"קשה לזווגם כקריעת ים סוף – קשין מזונותיו של אדם כקריעת ים סוף"
“It is as difficult to pair a man woman together for marriage as the splitting of the sea” (Sotah 2a) “Providing one’s maintenance is as difficult as the splitting of the sea” (Pesachim 118a)

QUESTION: In what way are marriage and parnasah analogous to the splitting of the sea?

ANSWER: When the Children of Israel saw Pharaoh pursuing them into the wilderness, they formed a number of plans of action. One group favored a battle with the Egyptians, another group advised leaping into the sea, a third said to surrender and return to Egypt, and a fourth advocated crying to Hashem for help. Nobody dreamt of the possibility that the sea would split and that they would march through valiantly on dry land (see Mechilta 14:13).

Frequently, young people fantasize about their most suitable match. However, despite their plans, they meet their “bashert” in a totally unanticipated way, and often one marries someone from a distant place never originally envisioned. Similarly, in earning one’s livelihood, an individual may have many plans and calculations, but ultimately Hashem often provides him an unanticipated source of income.

(שמעתי מדודי הרב ברוך הכהן ז"ל כהן מח"ס קול תודה)