We say every Friday at the end of Shachris, as well as 3 times on Shabbos, the paragraph in Tehillim (93:1), “Hashem will have reigned, Hashem will have donned grandeur; Hashem will have donned might and girded Himself.” These are words we can’t really relate to. What does it mean that Hashem clothes Himself in haughtiness and strength? Granted Hashem is the most powerful, infinite all-encompassing in existence who created all of this existence and is in control and runs everything in creation, but these are still concepts that are very hard to relate to. Chaza”l even say that the way we praise Hashem in the beginning of shemone esray should be the exact words used, and we shouldn’t add our own praises because we cannot relate to Hashem’s actual greatness and to add what we feel is more praise besides what the Great Rabbis of the Assembly, Anshe Knesses Hagadola, enacted with their Divine inspiration and deep intelligence, would in fact be underscoring and insulting Hashem. However, in this week’s Torah portion of Teruma, listed amongst the contributions to the building of the mishkan the Torah says, “oil for illumination, spices for the anointment oil and the aromatic incense ” (Shemos 25:6).
The Daas Zekeinim wonders why the entire Torah portion is talking about the material that will be used in the construction of the mishkan, but this pasuk is referring to the gifts offered to Hashem. Yet wheat for the Lechem Hapanim, sheep for the daily offerings, and wood for the burning on the alter were not mentioned? He answered that in fact all three were needed for the building.
1. The anointing oil was used to anoint and sanctify all the vessels in the mishkan.
2. The spices for the incense were used just as the way of kings to spice up their palaces before they entered them, and all the more so before the King Of All Kings The Holy One Blessed Be He. We also find that the Shechina, the Holy Presence, only appeared when offering the incense as it says, “the incense covered the cloud” (Vayikra16:13), and it also writes, “for from within the cloud I will be seen” (Vayikra 16:2).
3. The oil for light is also mentioned since it’s the way of kings to light a candle in front of them before they enter their house, and even though He does not need the light, but it is still honor for Him on High. (Click here for Hebrew text.)
We see that the spices for the incense and the oil for the lights is in fact part of the construction of the Mishkan, because they were needed as part of respect towards Hashem upon entering His palace just as any other king used, so they are integral parts of the palace itself. But how does incense or candlelight show respect and honor to Hashem, who has no need for physical items, and in fact detests physical desires and the finite world? If the spiritual soul detests such things, then certainly Hashem would! And if all the words of praise cannot properly do justice to the honor and respect that Hashem deserves, how can a light from a candle and good smelling aromas do anything for Hashem’s glory; if anything it should detract from the due respect that Hashem truly deserves?
However, we must say that this is done not for His own feeling of glory, but for human beings to relate to Hashem’s awesomeness and glory so that they can appreciate the majesty and kingship of the Master of Universe, King Of All Kings. Just as Chaza”l gave certain guidelines, the specific prayers and the specific wording of each prayer as a means for us to appreciate the greatness of Hashem, so to Hashem does earthly finite things for us to relate to His royalty in order to ensure we treat Him with proper respect and honor.