The Temple Institute: A Day in the Life of the Holy Temple: The Incense is Placed Upon the Altar

The Incense is Placed Upon the Altar

The priest who attends to the incense service now enters into the Sanctuary, together with one colleague who will assist him. He removes the smaller vessel filled with incense, and hands it to his companion. The latter deposits some of the incense into the palms of the priest.

As mentioned above, the incense service only came about once in each priest's life - therefore, the priest who will now officiate has no prior experience. Before he entered, he was warned that he must be very cautious when placing the incense upon the burning coals. If he sprinkles it on the coals too close to the side where he is standing, he will be burned. He is instructed that he must sprinkle it with a motion moving away from himself.

When he receives word from the overseer that he may now begin, the priest begins to let the grains fall from his palms across the top of the altar, slowly, like one who sifts flour (Maimonides). When the entire chamber fills with the cloud of smoke, he prostrates himself and exits the Sanctuary.

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