I read this on the Chabad website

In his Likkutei Torah (Devarim 78d) Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi explains that the altars form the whole heart of the Jew. And corresponding to the two altars of the Sanctuary, the outer and the inner, are the outer and inner levels of the heart, its surface personality and its essential core.

The altar on which the continual fire was to be set was the outer one. And for the Jew this means that the fire of his love for G‑d must be outward, open and revealed. It is not a private possession, to be cherished subconsciously. It must show in the face he sets towards the world.

  1. What I would like to know is from where the Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi got his idea from to compare the altars with the heart. Are there any verses in the Scripture which take this symbolism, or make a alogy or metaphor in similar fashion?

  2. And Secondly, if the continual fire was to be set on the outer one, in order to represent that the fire of his love of G-d must be outward, open and revealed in the surface of one's personality.. then what about the inner altar in which way does it represents the inner essence? Or what about the other continual fire (i.e. light), that of the Ner Tamid that was placed in the inner core?


1 Answer 1


This is drawn from two sources in the Zohar. Parshat Balak 196b, chapter 220 and in the second introduction to Tikkunei Zohar 17a quoting Eliyahu HaNavi.

This also follows the way it is explained in Sefer Kehillat Yaacov beginning with the words, מזבח תרין מדבחן אנון כו׳ and מזבח הזהב.

By way of illustration, when looking at the overhead floor plan of the Temple, it is compared to the silhouette of either a person laying prostrate, arms outstretched before G-d or a Kohen raising their hands to bless. The placement of the outer alter is in the general position where the heart would be. The Holy and Holy of Holies are in the position of the head. The inner alter, the gold, incense alter is in the place where the brains would be.

In context, the Mochin (Brains) are what give rise to the Middot (Emotional Attributes) in proper service to G-d.

This same structure follows the placement of the Tefillin shel Rosh and Tefillin shel Yad. The 4 Batim of the shel Rosh correspond with the brains. The straps of the shel Rosh meet at the heart which is the place where the Avnet (Gartel) is tied. And the Bayit of the shel Yad, which is turned toward the heart to receive it's influence, concludes with the strap which ends at the hand. This means performance of the commandments, external action, is the main thing.

See here:

enter image description here

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .