The Ketoret in the Modern World
What does a soul smell like? What does a soul taste like? Are the tastes and smells of the soul perceived in your life?
And that brings us to another set of questions: Is life meant only to feed and sustain you or is life also meant to be aromatic, delicious and flavorful? Is Judaism and your relationship with God meant only to feed and sustain you, or is it also meant to be aromatic, delicious and flavorful?
Scientific studies have shown that smell and taste are part of the same whole, and that as much as 90% of perceived taste is actually the sense of smell at work. This is why when you have a cold, you barely taste the food that you eat.
Understanding the difference between the Temple’s two altars – one offering edibles and one offering scents – is understanding the difference between body and soul: the former “eats,” the latter “tastes.” (And by “tastes” we mean smells.)
Our sense of smell is our ability to infuse everything in life with zing and zest, aroma and perfume. And, as we will see in this sermon, it is through four characteristics – 1) holiness 2) purity 3) empathy, and 4) hope – that the ketoret, the soulful incense, is scented and enjoyed.
This is the ultimate nose job. And it is nothing to sniff at.