Ketoret Section

The Ketoret is translated as incense. Actually it comes from the root that means to "bring closer". The Ketoret section is said twice a day Morning and Afternoon. It is said that doing this with Kavenah will bring many benefits. In the words of the Zohar "If only people knew how great it is before HaShem when they say the section of Pitum HaKetoret, they would take each and every word of the section and place it on their heads like a golden crown!"

Here is the Parasha Ketoret section as said in the Orthodox Siddur. The actual statements come from the Torah Scroll with some additional explanations and commentary from the Talmud. It is called Pitum Ketoret because that is the first two words of the section. It is important to count the 11 components with your right hand as we will describe and explain below.

Exodus Chapter 30 Verses 34 to 36

This section is called Parasha Ketoret - Portion of the Incense

ויאמר יהוה אל-משה קח-לך סמים נטף ושחלת וחלבנה סמים ולבנה זכה בד בבד יהיה ועשית אתה קטרת רקח מעשה רוקח ממלח טהור קדש ושחקת ממנה הדק ונתתה ממנה לפני העדת באהל מועד אשר אועד לך שמה קדש קדשים תהיה לכם

Exodus Chapter 30 Verses 7 and 8

והקטיר עליו אהרן קטרת סמים בבקר בבקר בהיטיבו את-הנרת יקטירנה ובהעלת אהרן את-הנרת בין הערבים יקטירנה קטרת תמיד לפני יהוה לדרתיכם


Exodus Chapter 30 Verses 34 to 36

Vaydaber HaShem el Moshe: Kah Lekha samim-nataf u'shechelet, ve'chelbenah, samim, u'levonah zakah--baad be'baad yihiyeh. Ve'asitah otah ketoret rokach, maaseh rokeach, memulach, tahor, kodesh. Ve'shachakta mimena hadek, ve'natatah mimena lifnei ha'edut, be'ohel moed, asher ivaed lekha shamah, kodesh kadashim tihiyeh lakhem.

Exodus Chapter 30 Verses 7 and 8

Vene'ehmar Vehektir ahlahv Ahharon ketoret samim. Baboker Baboker Bhatavo eht hanarot yahaketerenah: Uvahaahlot Ahharon eht hanayrot bain haahrbayim yakterenah. Ketoret tahmid lifnay HaShem ledorotaychem:


Exodus Chapter 30 Verses 34 to 36

HaShem said to Moshe:Take to yourself spices--balsam, onycha, galbanum, (as well as other specified) spices, and pure frankincense--equal amounts of each. (Grind each spice seperately and then)blend (them together as) a ketoret compound, the work of a master perfumer, well blended, free of all impurity, and holy. Pulverize a small portion of (the Ketoret daily) and place it (on the Golden Altar) before the (Ark of ) Testimony in the Communion Tent where I commune with you. It shall have the highest degree of holiness for you.

Exodus Chapter 30 Verses 7 and 8

It is also said: Aharon must burn the Ketoret spices on it (the Golden Altar) early each morning when he cleans the (Menorah) lamps. He must also burn the Ketoret when he lights the lamps towards evening. It is a daily Ketoret offering before HaShem through out all your generations.

General Information and Kavenah

This is only the beginning. We will read a section that puts these general words into more detail. The next section is called Pitum Ketoret which means "blending of the Ketoret".

Verse 34 lists 4 spices yet there are 11 spices. This verse also ends with a term Baad Be'baad yihiyeh which we translate as "equal amounts of each". This is not a complete translation. Rashi explains part of the process by telling us "equal amounts". Ibn Ezra fills in another aspect by teaching that we are to Pound each one separately and only then blend them.

There is an amazing spiritual lesson learned from this. The path to come closer to Hashem is by respecting separation. If we do not appreciate the difference among people we can never become unified. History is replete with examples of powers who tried to impose their system on the culture of another. This does not work for two reasons. There can be no disappearance in spirituality. And the spiritual law of "respecting differences". If you think that you can understand this on its simple level you are making a mistake. Meditate on this. Even use this section as a repetitive chant and experience what you experience. This will assist you to get closer to HaShem.

Count the words and letters! There are 65 words and 260 letters in the first 3 verses, (Chapter 30 Verses 34 to 36). Is this meaningful? 65 is the gematria of Adonai (Aleph Dalet Nun Yood). 260 is 26 x 10. As students of Kabbalah you should know and recognize this connection.

The Pitum Ketoret - The Blending of the Ketoret

These Verses comes from the Talmud. They describe the procedure to be followed in the blending of the Ketoret. They also describe the quantities and measures to mix. In addtion they specifiy the minimum and maximum quantity to be mixed and blended. Please do not look at these verses from a physical consciousness. There is a reason that these things are put into this procedure. That reason is spiritual as we will point out.

תנו רבנן פטום הקטרת כיצר שלש מאות וששים ושמונה מנים היו בה שלש מאות וששים וחמשה כמנין ינות החמה מנה בכל יום מחציתו בבקר ומחציתו בירב ושלשה מנים יתרים שמהם מכניס כהן גדול ונוטל מהם מלא חפניו ביום הכפורים מחזירן למכתשת בערב יום הכפורים כדי לקים מצות דקה מן הדקה ואחד עשר סמנים היו בה ואלו הן


Tanu Rabanan Petum Haketoret Katzad. Shelosh Maot VeSheShim Ushmonah Nahnim Hayu Vah. Shelosh Maot Vesheshim Vachamesha Keminyan Yemot Hachamah Maneh Bechol Yom Machatzeto Baboker Unachatzeto BaErev Ushloshah Manim Yetayrim Shehmayhem Maknis Kohen Gadol Venotail Mahem Meloh Chafnav Behyom Hakeporim. Mahchazeran Lamketeshet BeErev Yom Hakepurim Kedai Lekayaim Metzvat Dakah Min Hadakah. Veahchad Ahsar Samanim Hayu Bah. Vealu Hain


Our Sages have taught: How was the compounding of the Incense done? Three hundred and sixty eight portions were contained therein. These corresponded to the number of days in the solar year, one portion for each day: Half in the morning and Half at sundown. As for the remaining three portions the Kohen Gadol (High Priest), on Yom Kippur, filled both his hands with them. On the Eve of Yom Kippur, He would take them back to the mortar to fulfill the requirement that they should be very finely ground. Each Portion contained eleven spices:

Discussion and Kavenah

There are many words above that have gematria relationships with Names of HaShem.Here are a few examples:

Maneh is connected to 72 Name Pey Vav Yood.

Bachol are the same letters as the 72 Name Lamed Caf Bet.

Yom connects to the first half of the third sequence of the Ana Bekoach Noon Gimmel Dalet and also the Hebrew word Zan (Zion Nun) which means Parnassah.

Cohen connects to the 72 Name Mem Lamed Hay. This Gematria of 75 hints to the Parasha of Yitro since it has 75 Verses in the private study level.

Gadol connects to the 72 Name Lamed Hay Chet.

I am now going to show you a deep insight about how the Sages actually evaluate the Torah and determine what the codes are saying:

The Talmud says the following: Rabbi Yochanan said: Eleven spices were transmitted to Moshe at Sinai. Rav Huna said: What is written in the verse? "Samim" --This denotes two spices (since Samim is plural and the minimum amount to be plural is 2) "Nataf u'shechelet ve'chelbenah" ( together with the first two unspecified spices we add these three and) we have a total of 5. The verse continues "samim" (this indicates that there are actually 2 times 5 or ten. Continuing "Levonah zakah" this single spice mentioned separately brings the total to eleven. Keriot 6B

Rashi tells from the same wording that any 11 spices will do as long as the mentioned 5 are included and also that the spices produce a thick dense cloud of smoke that rises directly or straight up. Other places in the Talmud we learn that we can not use any kind of bee or fruit honey.

Below we count the components of the incense. Use your right hand and count each component from 1 to 11. This satisfies the Halacha that implies we are to have strong intent when we say/sing the Ketoret.

הצרי (1 (2 והצפורן (3 והחלבנה (4 והלבונה משקל שבעים שבעים מנה (5 מור (6 וקציעה (7 ושבולת נרד (8 וכרכוס משקל ששה עשר ששה עשר מנה (9 קושט שנים עשר (10 קלופה שלשה (11 קנמון תשעה


Chatzari - VeHatziporen - Vehachalvoneh - Vehalbonah Mishkal Shivim Shivim Maneh - Mor - Uktziah - Ushvolet Nard - Vekarcos Mishkal Shishah Eser Shisah Eser Maneh - Koshet Shanim Eser - Kilufah Shelosha - Kinamon tishah.


1)Balsam 2)Onycha 3)Galbanum 4)Frankincense the weight of seventy portions each 5)Myrrh 6)Cassia 7)Spikenard 8)and Saffron, the weight of sixteen portions each. 9)12 Portions of Costus 10) Three of aromatic or Bark 11)Nine of Cinnamon

Comments and Kavenah

There is a specific correspondence to the Sefirot from the components of the incense. Here it is from the writings of the ARI.

Balsam = Keter

Onycha = Yesod

Galbanum =Malchut (also the evil smelling spice)

Pure Frankincense = Ohr Makif - Surrounding Light

Myrrh = Chesed

Cassia = Gevurah

Spikenard = Tiferet

Saffron = Netzach

Costus = Chokmah

Aromatic Bark = Binah

Cinnamon =Hod

Why is it Ohr Makif and not Ohr Penini (inner Light)?

בורית כרשינא תשעה קבין יין קפריסין סאין תלת וקבין תלתא ואם לא מצא יין קפריסין מביא חמר חיור עתיק מלח סדומית רובע מעלה עשן כל שהוא


Borit Carshinah Tishah Kabin Yayin Kafrisin SeAin Talat Vekavin Taletah VeEm Lo Matza Yayin Kafrisin Mabiyah Chomer Chayor Ahtik Melach Sedomot Ruvah MeAhlah Eshin Kol Shehu.


Further, nine kavs of Lye of Carsina. And three kavs and three Se'Ahs of Cyprus wine. And if one should not find any Cyprus wine, he should bring old white wine and a quarter of the salt of Sodom. And a small measure of a smoke raising herb.

Commentary and Kavenah

What do you learn from the statement Cyprus Wine?

There was a discovery of some vials in the Kumron caves approx. 12 years ago. This incense has been analyzed and we learned the full extent of the mixture "scientifically". Until the Temple is returned it is against Halacha to mix this mixture. Some Rabbi's ruled that the oil of this mixture might be used. One of my students ordered this oil from a source on line twice. Once he reported tremendous energy associated with the smelling of this incense. The second time not.

Please note why there are 11 items: The 10 Sefirot and the negative system. You will note one of these items smells horrible. Yet it is reported in the mixture that the mixture smells wonderful.

There is more from the Talmud describing different opinions, yet i do not have the time this week to complete the Hebrew and the majority of the important aspect is above.