Pinchas: Chapter 38

Smoke and Fragrance and Incense


Rabbi Yehuda, Rabbi Shimon and the Faithful Shepherd discuss the smoke that emerged from the left nostril and the fragrance that was drawn into the right nostril, and we learn that these are Judgment and Mercy. Incense corrects the two and removes death from the world.


We now offer our negative, self-destructive traits as a sacrifice through the verses that speak the mysteries of the burnt offerings and incense. This action has a profound effect upon our lives as revealed by the Zohar: "...nothing is as effective as incense for doing away with death in the world, for incense is the connecting of Judgment with Mercy with the sweet savor in the nostrils."

This passage lights the sticks of incense on our behalf in the following manner: Smoke, we are told, denotes judgment, which correlates to the left nostril. Our repentant reading of this passage repeals all judgments decreed against us and our neighbors. Fragrance correlates to the right nostril, bringing Mercy into the body instead of Judgment. Thus, here we arouse great Mercy in the world. Judgment and Mercy then combine together. Smoke and fragrance blend together to generate a sweet incense that slays the Angel of Death, forever banishing the force of death from our body and civilization.