Frequently, in halacha we see the rule of מעלין בקודש- loosely translated as "we go 'upwards' in holiness."

One example of this application is that one may use a parchment of tefillin to fix a Torah but not vice versa, because a Torah is considered 'holier' than tefillin.

Is there a Biblical verse for this principle? From where does this concept emanate?

1 Answer 1


Menachot 99a derives this principle from two biblical sources.

We don’t descend in holiness: This is learned from the fact that after Moshe began to erect the Mishkan, no one else (of lesser holiness) was allowed to help him complete it (Shemot 40:18). [This is following one explanation of Rashi there; Rashi himself gives two other explanations.]

We ascend in holiness: This is learned from the fire-pans of Korach’s followers which were turned into a covering for the altar (Bamidbar 17:3).

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