In this week’s Torah portion, we continue to learn about the Temple the Jewish people built in the desert. The Torah tells us that the Temple had two Altars. The first was called an Outer Altar since it was placed in the Courtyard of the Temple. On this Altar the animal sacrifices were brought. The second Altar was placed in the Temple itself and was only used to burn incense from which smoke rose in the Temple twice daily.
The commentaries teach us that the Outer Altar corresponds to the body which you feed food from animals while the Inner Altar corresponds to the soul which becomes refreshed and animated through a pleasant odor. Therefore, the sacrifices brought on the Outer Altar connected the lower body consciousness of the person to G-d, while the Inner Altar connected the person’s soul to G-d.
Our sages teach that since the Temple was destroyed, prayers take the place of sacrifices. Indeed, the same applies to Prayer. There are prayers that are designated to attach ones lower consciousness to G-d and then there are more soulful prayers such as the Shema and the Amidah that were designated to attach our higher consciousness to G-d.