I was curious if there is a Kabbalistic or Hasidic meaning to incense, not just the incense of the Tabernacle but incense in general. I believe Breslov Hasidism place a great emphasis on hitbodedut, spontaneous prayer and meditation, which may be relevant. Is incense as a spiritual or joyful object mentioned in works of Kabbalah or Chasiduss?

2 Answers 2


מהרצ"א says in רגל ישרה that the Ktoret in the Beit Hamikdash was to seperate the Kedusha from broken vessels that happened before creation. With that being said many things are to seperate Kedusha from the broken vessels.


Rabbi Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky quotes the Lubavitcher Rebbe and explains the deeper meaning behind the ketores. He writes:

The incense symbolized the intrinsic connection that exists between G‑d and the Jewish people and can be neither severed nor sullied1. This essential connection does not merely allow the inclusion of those who have gone astray; it demands it. If the one foul-smelling spice was absent, or the impure one was left out, the entire mixture was invalid.

The root of the word "ketores" can also means "connection" see: Sefer HaMa'amarim Melukat, vol. 2, pp. 122-3.

Side note: There's a kabbalistic tradition that reciting the pitum haketores is for eridicating plagues.

  • Thanks very much
    – Kirk
    Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 22:20
  • 1
    I'd heard a shiur citing the Sod Yesharim (Izhbitzer) in a similar vein, the ability to combine foul-smelling things into a greater good. I recall he used more complex Kabbalistic language; not my thing. If I recalled from the shiur, that's why the Ketores is so central to the Korach story: "inclusiveness" can be very powerful in the right hands ... but destructive when touted by those with an agenda...
    – Shalom
    Commented Oct 26, 2023 at 23:15

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