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    And then the fight
    started …
    “My wife sat down
    on the couch next to
    me as I was flipping
    channels. She asked,
    ‘What’s on TV?’

    I said, ‘Dust.’
    “And then the fight started…
    “When I got home last night, my wife
    demanded that I take her someplace
    expensive… so, I took her to a gas station.
    “And then the fight started…
    “My wife and I were sitting at a table at
    my high school reunion, and I kept staring
    at a drunken lady swigging her drink as she
    sat alone at a nearby table.
    “My wife asked, ‘Do you know her?’
    ‘Yes,’ I sighed, ‘She’s an old friend. I
    understand she took to drinking right after
    we split up many years ago, and I hear she
    hasn’t been sober since.’
    “’My G-d!’ says my wife, ‘who would
    think a person could go on celebrating that
    “And then the fight started…”
    The Fire

    “The fire on the altar shall remain aflame
    on it, it shall not be extinguished; and the
    Kohen shall kindle wood upon it morning
    after morning… A constant fire shall burn
    upon the Altar; it shall never go out.”
    (Vayikra 6:5-6).
    With these words the Torah describes, in
    this week’s parsha (Tzav), the instruction
    to continuously maintain a flame on the
    altar which stood in the Mishkan and then
    later in the Beis Hamikdash in
    Yerushalayim. For this purpose, the Kohen
    was required to place new firewood on the
    altar each morning, in order to feed a flame
    which must never go out.
    As the biblical commentators and the
    Jewish mystics acutely grasped, each
    mitzvah in the Tanach contained, in
    addition to its concrete and simple
    meaning, many symbolisms relating to the
    inner psyche of the human being. This
    mitzvah is no exception, and it captures a
    simple but profound truth about our daily
    “A constant fire shall burn upon the altar”
    – the altar, in the writings of Jewish
    mysticism, is symbolic of the human heart,
    the space in each of us most capable of
    sacrifice. The heart however needs a

    continuous fire burning in it. For the
    human heart to live deeply, for it to feel
    empathy and experience the depth of love,
    it needs to be on fire, passionate, aflame.
    But how? There are times when our
    hearts and souls are inspired and aflame;
    but often we feel numb and apathetic.
    Sometimes we get cynical and detached
    (as in the above anecdotes.) How do we
    maintain the flame and the inspiration in
    our own inner altar?
    There is only one way: “The Kohen shall
    kindle wood upon it morning after
    morning.” Each and every morning we
    must place “wood” on our altar, in order to
    feed its potential flame. Fire cannot exist in
    a vacuum; the fire in our heart and soul,
    too, requires “wood” to sustain it.
    What is the “wood” that is capable of
    feeding the soul’s flames each morning?
    Study, prayer and charity. They are the
    morning encounters with the living G-d
    that allow the fire of the soul to hold on to
    something and take root into the human
    A delicious piece of cheesecake, reading
    and answering your e-mails, listening to
    the news – they don’t do the trick of turning
    on your soul, your inner depth. They lack

    the properties to bring out the flame of the
    soul. In the morning, before you do
    anything else, you need to engage in a
    labor that will let the flame of your soul
    emerge. Good Morning Soul must precede
    Good Morning America. Then you’re set
    for the day, because as Goethe said, a man
    sees in the world what he carries in his
    heart. If your heart is aflame, your world
    that day will be on fire.
    And you must place the wood on your
    altar each morning, no exceptions.
    Consistency is the key to a meaningful and
    inspiring day. There are no shortcuts to
    inspiration; everything comes with a price.
    The only job where you start at the top is
    digging a hole. But life is about climbing
    mountains, not digging holes. And in
    climbing mountains you must begin on the