Between mincha and ma'ariv a few days ago, the shul rav discussed the beginning of this week's parsha, parshat Tzav. He mentioned that the Cohen takes the ashes and places it on the side of the altar. He referred to this process as תרומת הדשן .

I'm a bit confused about this term. Doesn't the word תרומה refer to a "gift" or something given to the Cohen, like the תרומה of produce to be given to the Cohen? What does it mean to give תרומה from the ashes? Who does the Cohen give this to?

Am I misunderstanding some nuance of the meaning of the word, here? Did the rabbi use an incorrect term? Did I incorrectly hear the word? (Sorry, I didn't have time to ask the rabbi afterwards)

    – kouty
    Commented Apr 6, 2017 at 19:15

2 Answers 2


The ת in תרומה isn't part of the root. You know this root from רם על כל גוים or על ההרים הרמים or אשר הונף ואשר הורם. It means high, and in [Hif'il] verb form in means to make high, ie. to lift up. So we have תרומה which is noun form ~ 'that which is lifted up'. One thing which is lifted out of the rest of its group is the heave offering (heaving is moving up and down) and another is the extra ashes from the altar.

You can read more about the process of the removing ashes from the altar in Rambam Temidin Chapter 2.

  • In Mishnaic Hebrew it becomes a root by itself חמשה לא יתרמו.
    – Heshy
    Commented Feb 6, 2019 at 21:10

As Double AA explained the word, Rabbi Safran asks about this in his article in this week's Jewish Press, and I'll quote from his answer.

"...While we might expect the verb describing the action here to be “to clean” or “to remove” the ashes, instead the Torah tells us it is v’herim, to “lift up.” This makes clear that terumat hadeshen was not “merely” a cleaning task, not just tidying up the mizbayach for the next day’s service, but rather an ennobling act meant to bring majesty to the Temple.

It was an act of devotion."


"By having the kohanim “take out the garbage,” the Torah is highlighting the true and submissive nature of the kohen’s role. While we often portray the priest in his fine garments attending to the highest and most holy of tasks, he can only rise to that level of holiness by being truly humbling himself before God."

Read the full article here: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-simple-task-a-menial-task-a-mitzvah/2017/04/07/

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