By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld
It seems puzzling that the mention of the building of the inner mizbeach is not discussed when the other vessels of the Mishkan are mentioned in Parshas Terumah. The inner mizbeach, which was used for the k’tores, is discussed in Parshas Tetzaveh when the vestments of Aharon Hakohen are mentioned. The inner mizbeach seems to be out of place there.
The Chavatzeles Hasharon brings another puzzling point to discuss. When each command is mentioned in Parshas Tetzaveh, it says that Aharon should do it following the commandment. In contrast, when commands are mentioned in Parshas Terumah, it does mention that Aharon should do it. Why is this so?
We could explain the difference by understanding the purposes of the Mishkan. The first reason for the building of the Mishkan was to build a house for Hashem so the Shechina could rest in it. The second reason is that we have a place where we could serve Hashem by bringing various sacrifices and do the Avoda.
It would seem that in Parshas Teruma we concentrate on making a dwelling for Hashem and “furnishing it,” hence we see the klei Hamishkan enumerated in Parshas Teruma. In Parshas Tetzaveh we concentrate on the Avoda and the ability to bring sacrifices in the Mishkan. The Parsha therefore concentrates on the vestments of Aharon Hakohen, who was the high priest to serve Hashem in the Mishkan.
This would explain why we don’t mention Aharon in Parshas Terumah; since it is a house built for Hashem with the furniture that belongs to Hashem. Parshas Tetzaveh, on the other hand, deals with the Avoda part of the Mishkon. It is therefore appropriate that when every command is mentioned, Aharon Hakohen is also mentioned. The posuk mentions the keilim again in Parshas Tetzaveh to tell us that Aharon was the one responsible to do the Avoda.
Based on the above premise we can say that the mizbeach hapnimi was not part of the furniture of the Mishkon; it was just a way to be able to bring the k’tores. A proof of this is that Shlomo Hamelech built ten shulchanos and ten Menoros in the Bais Hamikdosh, but he did not build ten Mizbechos. Shlomo Hamelech, based on the word of Hashem, was able to enhance the hashra’as haShechina by enhancing the furniture and adding more. In contrast, because the Mizbeach was not part of the furniture, Shlomo Hamelech could not add any.
To further understand the difference between the inner mizbeach and other klei hamishkan we can look at the explanation of Meshech Chochma who explains why the command of the inner Mizbeach is not written with the rest of the klei hamishkan. The Meshech Chochma explains that all the other vessels were integral as far as the Avoda is concerned. If there was no Aron, then there would be no luchos. If there was no outside mizbeach, there would be no korban tamid. If there was no Menorah, there would be no lighting of the candles. However, even if there was no mizbeach hapnimi, we would still be required to bring the k’tores since it could be brought even without a mizbeach. This proves that the mizbeach hapnimi was not part of the furniture, it was there to enhance the avoda, This explains why it is not written in Parshas Teruma with the furniture of the Mishkon, but rather in Parshas Tetzaveh with the part of the avoda that was needed for the mishkon.
May we be zoche for the Bais Hamikdosh Hashlishi that will be both a place for hashra’as hashechina and avodas hakorbanos.