Sunday, February 26, 2017

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The Ramp

   by Reb Gutman Locks  
     The Ramp


     The Torah teaches that when the Kohen offered a sacrifice he was to go up to the Altar on a ramp and not by stairs. "You shall not ascend My Altar on steps, so that your nakedness (ervah) will not be uncovered upon it."[i]

     Rashi explains that climbing stairs would cause the Kohen's bare legs to be exposed to the stairs.

     There is another meaning of the word ervah that seems to fit better here. It can also mean detriment,[ii] shame, or weakness.

     When you climb using stairs your strength and immediate drive is to push down on the lower step so you can go up. When you go up on a ramp your head and upper body lean forward in the direction you are going.

     When you go down stairs your attention is on the lower stair where you are going. When you go down a ramp your head and upper body lean back towards the upper end of the ramp.

     When we move toward doing a mitzvah we should be leaning into it, wanting it, reaching for it, not pushing down to go up. When we move away from a mitzvah we should be reluctant, not wanting to leave the holiness that the mitzvah provides.


[i] Exodus 20:23

[ii] Ezra 4:14


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