Vayak'hel: Chapter 20

The fingernails


We learn that the fingernails are the secret of the luminaries of fire while the inner parts of the fingers are the secret of the luminaries of light. This is why the fingernails should be exposed to the candle when the blessing over the candle is said, but the inner fingers must not face that light. The nails should be exposed to draw Chochmah from that candle. Now we are told that we should smell perfumes at the end of Shabbat because the additional Neshamah and the Ruach leave man, leaving the Nefesh naked. The meaning of "and he smelt the smell of his garments" is explained, referring to the garments of Adam that were given to him by God before he sinned. The fingernails are a remnant, and must not be grown, and must not be thrown away, because they emanate from the back and are of filth.