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Tikkun for Megillat Hashoah

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pittum haketoret
(the incense mixture)

Mordechai Pinchas Sofer

Incense blended to a special formula was burned in the Temple on the Golden Altar morning and evening. This is outlined in Sh’mot 30:34-36 and 7-8 and the sections from the Talmud (Bavli and Yerushalmi) are recited add additional information and indeed ingredients. There are 4 enumerated in the Torah (stacte, onycha, galbunum and frankincense) but the Rabbis make them up to eleven and then add some other non-core ingredients.

These passages are read as we can’t burn the incense nowadays. The Zohar says that reading it helps remove impurity from the world and the Arizal writes that a careful recitation of these passages helps bring one to repentance because as R. Hirsch says the incense was all about making our actions pleasing to God. Because the ingredients are precise and if there was variation one ‘deserves death’ - one is told to read it from a text (rather then from memory) in case you make a mistake in the reading.

Seder Hayom states that one who fears for himself and for his soul should be put great effort into this matter to write the entire text of the Ketoret on kosher k’laf in K’tav Ashurit. The Kaf Hachim says that if you read from a k’laf then it is a segula to merit wealth and do well in business - i.e. to increase your parnassah (income). The Zohar too adds this will bring blessings for livelihood, health and peace as well as atonement.

Part of this is derived from the fact that the incense was used to ward off a plague and so is seen as a protective charm of sorts.

It is therefore another activity that a scribe will be commissioned to undertake and one that I had wanted to do for ages but just never got around to it. There is a variance between the Ashkenazi and Sefardi text (the one above that I wrote is Ashkenazi Beyt Ari) and generally written either as a 42 line amud (column) like the Torah or often as two 21 line amudim next to each other (also sometimes with psalm 67 in the shape of a Menorah as a third amud).

Sometimes they are put into leather holders or onto a single roller like Megillat Esther or just framed and put on a wall so that people can read the text. There is a very large version in the Kotel area in the synagogue area in the men’s section on a wall opposite the Psalms scroll (see photo left).

The tikkun I had from Keset Hasofer in Mea Shearim was for a 42 line version and so I decided to produce that as a first go. However I don’t have quite the same wall space as the Kotel so went for a smaller version - about 3mm letter height.

Left to right: Starting the first words from the tikkun. Two lines done and eventually the whole column of 42 lines. Right: Framed and ready for hanging.

So if you’d like to increase your parnassah then you can do that by ordering a pittum ketoret - and hey that will increase my parnassah at the same time. Now that’s what I call a ‘win-win’.

Mordechai Pinchas

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