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What is the Kabbalistic significance of the "Plag Haminchah"?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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The Human Temple:

The Temple contained two altars: the Copper Altar, situated in the Temple courtyard, and the Golden Altar, located in the Temple’s sanctuary, which was used for offering the daily incense. The Jewish body and soul is today’s Temple of G-d; the heart is the altar, the fire on the altar is the unquenchable love every Jew has for G-d, and you are the sacrifice – intended to be consumed by this fiery love and brought closer to G-d. The prayers of today are in lieu of the sacrifices of old. Corresponding to these two altars, are two types of prayers; prayers which come from the “external heart,” and prayers which emanate from the very depths and essence of the Jewish heart.

Selfish vs. Selfless Love:

The Torah tells us (Deut. 30:20), “Love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and cleave to Him, for He is your life.” Contemplating that G-d is the benefactor who constantly supplies you with everything, including the most precious commodity of all – life, is bound to awaken within your heart a love for Him. The more you focus on this, and prayer is the appropriate time for this meditation, the greater the love you will feel. However, this love is predicated on one’s sense of self, and therefore is considered to be a sacrifice of the “External Altar.” The internal love a Jew harbors for G-d is expressed in the verse, “The candle of G-d is the soul of Man” (Proverbs 20:27). Just as a flame is always reaching upwards, that’s its very nature, so too, the soul of a Jew has a natural love for G-d, a love that stems from the fact that the very essence of the soul is a spark of G-dliness. This is why the Jew is willing to die rather than desert G-d, because the Jew’s connection to G-d is actually deeper than his very sense of self. This love is symbolized by the incense which was offered in the Temple. The Hebrew word Ketoret (incense) means total unity – the unity between the Jewish soul and its emanator.

G-d is the benefactor who constantly supplies you with everything, including the most precious commodity of all – life, (this) is bound to awaken within your heart a love for Him
Two Levels of Prayer:

Prayer is our expression of love for G-d. All prayers convey love for G-d, and all forms of love are valid and acceptable, but prayer is particularly meaningful when one can tap into his internal reservoir of infinite love for G-d. This is why Jewish law does not give a definitive ruling in the argument between Rabbi Judah and the sages; because prayer contains both aspects – the (external) love symbolized by the animal offerings, and the essential love symbolized by the incense. This is especially true of the Minchah prayer – the stage of the dispute between Rabbi Judah and the Sages. Shacharit is recited in the early morning hours, when the person is fresh out of bed and still has not plunged into the superficial world of business, money, and ego. Maariv is recited at night, after the person has left behind the office, and is ready for a little spirituality. Minchah, however, is smack in middle of the work-day; it interupts the work rhythm and cuts short the important meeting. It is the utter devotion to G-d which gives the Jew the strength to tear away from the intensity of the job and connect with the Creator.

See What is Plag Haminchah?


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RELATED CATEGORIES

Mitzvot » Prayer » Laws and Customs

Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Shacharit
Morning prayer service. One of the three prayers a Jew is obligated to pray every day.
Maariv
Evening prayer service. One of the three prayers a Jew is obligated to pray every day.
Judah
1. The fourth son of Jacob and Leah. He was blessed by Jacob to be the leader of the tribes. Consequently, the Davidic royal dynasty is from the tribe of Judah. 2. The southern part of Israel which was occupied by the Tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and always remained under the reign of the kings from the tribe of Judah.
Proverbs
One of the 24 books of the Bible. A collection of moral writings authored by King Solomon.
Minchah
Afternoon prayer service. One of the three prayers a Jew is obligated to pray every day.
Temple
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.