Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2019 11:29:04 PM
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“You shall not ascend My Alter on steps.” (Shemot 20:23) Why does the Torah prohibit climbing up to the Alter on steps?

Rashi explains that the Torah commands here to build a ramp for the Alter and the ramp must be smooth and inclining without steps. Had there been steps leading up to the Alter, the Kohen would have to raise his legs as he mounted the steps. This would be a minute violation of modesty, which in the holy environment of the Mishkan, was not permitted.

What is the lesson for us today, when we have no Mishkan Alter? We know that the Torah is G-d’s GPS (G-d’s Personal System) for all times even when we don’t have a Holy Temple with an Alter.

The Chofetz Chaim, quoting the Vilna Gaon, learns a highly practical lesson from this verse. The ramp was built on a gradual incline. It was barely noticeable that the Kohen was climbing to the top of the ramp until he was standing at the base of the Alter.

Rav Pam explains that this same concept applies to growth in spiritual matters. One’s spiritual advancement must also be gradual, STEP – BY – STEP. Sometimes a person may not even be cognizant of any spiritual improvement, but he has grown none the less. A person can climb a flight of stairs two steps at a time, but it would be foolish for him to leap that distance up the incline of a ramp. He could fall and severely injure himself.

So too, is it with spiritual growth and development. Spiritual matters are also achieved by mostly small degrees of advancement until one reaches a new and higher level of spirituality.

As Jonny Maestro and the Crests sang in their number 1 hit song of the late ‘50s, “STEP – BY – STEP”.

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