Rabbi Chiya tells us of the esoteric meaning of the altar fire, the coals, the step where the priests stand, the sparks and the winds. We find that the altar is attended by legions upon legions of celestial beings.
76. Rabbi Chiya said: "A constant fire shall be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out" (Vayikra 6:6). This is Isaac's fire, as written: "Behold the fire and the wood," (Beresheet 22:7) WHICH ARE JUDGMENTS DRAWN FROM THE LEFT COLUMN BEFORE ITS INTEGRATION WITH THE RIGHT. This is the ever-burning fire, always PRESENT IN MALCHUT, SO THAT SHE WILL RECEIVE CHASSADIM FROM ZEIR ANPIN. The wood is the wood of Abraham, NAMELY CHASSADIM DRAWN FROM THE RIGHT COLUMN, CALLED 'ABRAHAM,' as written: "And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning," THE PRIEST BEING A MAN OF CHESED.
77. We learned that from Isaac's fire, THE SECRET OF JUDGMENT OF THE LEFT COLUMN OF ZEIR ANPIN, a glowing coal descends and reaches this altar, MALCHUT. One glowing coal goes out to the east side, one glowing coal to the west side, one glowing coal to the north side and one glowing coal to the south side, THAT ARE CHESED, GVURAH, TIFERET AND MALCHUT, to the four corners of the altar. The priest returns it to the four corners.
78. On the altar, there is a ramp, NAMELY A STEP, ON WHICH THE PRIESTS STAND WHEN THEY SERVE ON THE ALTAR. It has certain grades, THE SECRET OF THE SEVEN SFIROT - CHESED, GVURAH, TIFERET, NETZACH, HOD, YESOD AND MALCHUT - and the lowest grade, MALCHUT, reaches down to the upper abyss, BINAH OF THE KLIPAH, through a certain hole THAT REACHES FROM IT TO THE ABYSS. When the burning coals reach the four corners OF THE ALTAR, a fiery spark stirs and descends through that hole into the upper abyss. FROM THIS SPARK, THE KLIPAH GETS STRENGTH TO PUNISH THE WICKED.
79. On that place - NAMELY ON THE RAMP - there are legions upon legions of celestial beings OF THE RIGHT COLUMN, CHESED, that say, 'Holy,' in a great, supernal voice. On another side, they, WHO ARE FROM THE LEFT COLUMN, GVURAH, say, 'Holy,' in a supernal, pleasant voice. On another side, there are other legions OF THE CENTRAL COLUMN, TIFERET, that say, 'Holy,' and so on in the four corners OF THE RAMP. There are six billion legions, SIX BEING THE SECRET OF CHESED, GVURAH, TIFERET, NETZACH, HOD AND YESOD, THE ILLUMINATION OF BINAH, THE SECRET OF HUNDREDS, FROM CHOCHMAH THE SECRET OF THOUSANDS, FROM KETER, THE SECRET OF TEN THOUSANDS, AND FROM THE ASPECT OF YESOD COMES THE SECRET OF LEGIONS. NAMELY, THERE IS UPON THEM THE ILLUMINATION OF THE FIRST THREE SFIROT. They are on every corner OF THE RAMP, and over them there is an appointee. They all wear an efod, IN THE SECRET OF THE PRIESTLY CLOTHES, and they stand ON THE RAMP to carry the service of the altar, MALCHUT, which corresponds to the lower beings IN THE TEMPLE.
80. On another place, OPPOSITE THE RAMP, there are rumbling sea waves. THIS IS THE SECRET OF, "AND RAISED THE STROMY WIND, WHICH LIFTED UP THE WAVES THEREOF" (TEHILIM 107:25), WHICH IS THE MEANING, "AND AFTER THE WIND AN EARTHQUEKE," descending through certain grades, where the legions say in a pleasant voice: "Blessed be the glory of Hashem from his place" (Yechezkel 3:12). THIS IS THE SECRET OF, "AND I HEARD BEHIND ME A VOICE OF GREAT RUSHING, SAYING, 'BLESSED BE THE GLORY OF HASHEM FROM HIS PLACE," SINCE THEY SLAVED BEFORE THOSE ARMIES THAT ARE SITUATED ON THE RAMP OF THE ALTAR AND SAY, 'HOLY, HOLY, HOLY.' THIS IS THE SECRET OF, 'FACING THEM THEY GIVE PRAISE. SAYING: 'BLESSED IS THE GLORY OF HASHEM FROM HIS PLACE.' 'They all praise with hymns and are never silent day and night. All offer praises in a pleasant voice.
81. On another place, there are legions upon legions standing with fear, trembling and dread, as written: "They were so high that they were dreadful (lit. 'they had fear')" (Yechezkel 1:18), THOSE WHO SAY 'HOLY' CORRESPOND TO CHESED, THE RIGHT COLUMN. THOSE WHO SAY 'BLESSED' CORRESPOND TO GVURAH, THE LEFT COLUMN. THOSE PRESENT CORRESPOND TO TIFERET. They all look to NAMELY, RECEIVE BOWNTY from the altar above, MALCHUT.
82. When Isaac's fire, THE JUDGMENTS OF THE LEFT COLUMN, reaches the altar, several sparks go up and down on every side and some of the mighty, powerful warriors of the world are set aglow by them. Were it not for the priest, who stood upon the altar arranging the wood, the world would not have been able to withstand them. The backs of the living creatures are set ablaze from those glowing coals and sparks that come from them, as written: "As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like coals of fire, burning like the appearance of torches" (Ibid. 13).
83. On the right side of these living creatures, a wind stirs from above, FROM CHESED OF ZEIR ANPIN, blowing and settling upon that fire OF THE LIVING CREATURES. It blazes up and becomes perfumed and glows, silent, with a precious splendor, shining upon several legions posted on the right side. On the left side OF THE LIVING CREATURES, another strong wind stirs FROM GVURAH OF ZEIR ANPIN. It breaks rocks and blows into that fire OF THE LIVING CREATURES. It grows stronger and mightier until that wind of the left side OF ZEIR ANPIN is encompassed by that fire and shines upon several legions that stand on that side, THE LEFT SIDE OF THE CREATURES. Thus, from the four corners - CHESED, GVURAH, TIFERET AND MALCHUT - in relation to the four legions FROM THE FOUR CORNERS - CHESED, GVURAH, TIFERET AND MALCHUT OF ZEIR ANPIN - FOUR WINDS COME UPON THE FOUR LEGIONS OF CHESED, GVURAH, TIFERET AND MALCHUT OF THE LIVING CREATURES. All are perfumed when the priest ascends to the altar.