Positive Mitzvah Twenty-Eight

Burning the Incense

Requires Beit HaMikdash

Shemot 30:7 Upon it shall Aharon bring the spice incense up in smoke, every morning, when he cleans the lamps he shall bring it up in smoke.

The Kohanim are commanded to place incense twice every day upon the Golden Altar.

The provisions of this Mitzvah, and the procedure to be followed in the burning of the incense every day, are explained at the commencement of Keritot and in several places in Tamid.

Nachmanides counts the burning of the incense in the morning and in the evening as two distinct Mitzvot, since the obligation attaching to each is independent of the other.

Lots were cast to choose the Kohen who was to minister at the burning of the incense - one of the most coveted services in the Temple - and only such were admitted among the candidates as had not hitherto performed the service. The incense was burnt on the Golden Altar that was located in the Temple proper. This Golden Altar is to be distinguished from the Outer Altar that stood in the Temple Court, on which the offerings were consumed.

Special precautions were impressed upon the ministering Kohen to prevent him from being burnt by the fire of the incense.

Tamid 6, 3

"The one who burnt the incense did not do so until the superintendent said to him, "Burn the incense!" ... When all had gone away he burnt the incense and prostrated himself and went out"