When we read about the vessels of the tabernacle we find that only two of them are called “pure”: The menorah is called pure (Exodus 31,8) as well as the table used for rising bread (Leviticus 24,6). Why only these two vessels are referred to as being “pure”? Aren”t all the other vessels pure as well? What makes the Menorah and the Table so special?

The Chizkuni asks this question and answers that the reason is because there was no blood thrown upon these vessels. The blood of the sacrifices was thrown upon numerous vessels in the tabernacle, such as the altar and the Parochet (the curtain separating the holy from the holy of holies), in order to atone for the sins of the Israelites. But the question still remains: What is wrong with this blood? Did G-d not command us to throw this blood? Does it not redeem us from our sins!? So why is it that any vessel that blood was thrown upon could not be called pure? It should be exactly the opposite: Every vessel that has blood which G-d commanded should be even more pure!

This comes to teach us a very important principal: Spilling blood can never be referred to as pure. Even the blood of the holy sacrifices that G-d himself commanded to sprinkle, can make our vessels impure. The spilling of blood even when it comes for the most divine reasons is still wrong in its essence. The same idea is found regarding King David who was not allowed to build the holy temple, as G-d told him: “You have shed much blood, and have made great wars. You shall not make temples for My Name sake, for you have shed much blood on the ground before Me.” Once again we must ask the same questions: Was not the blood that King David spilled justified? Not only did he fight the wars of Israel, rather was he commanded to fight them by G-d! So why did he not have the merit to build the holy temple in his lifetime? From this source we see as well that the spilling of blood for any reason, even for a mitzvah, is still not the ideal solution and carries its consequences along with it.

Two years ago, I showed my English teacher in High-School pictures of my army service. In the pictures my friends and I were photographed with all our guns and weapons in a Rambo-type style. My English teacher (who is originally British) was shocked. He told me: “How can you be proud to be photographed with these weapons of death?” I tried to explain to him that we take pride in it because we are defending our country with these weapons of death just like a fireman taking pictures with his fire truck. But he insisted that although it is necessary for me to hold one of these weapons, I should still not see it as an ideal situation and see the moral wrongdoings of holding such weapons. And therefore the least I could do was not take pride in the situation imposed upon me. And of course not take pictures with these impure guns!

Needless to say that at the time I thought he was crazy, but after learning the Chizkuni, the words of my English teacher, might just make sense. We are obligated to fight our enemies, and sprinkle the blood of the sacrifices, because that is the situation which we live in, but we always must remember that this is not the ideal life. The spilling of blood can be defined as the “right” thing to do, but it can never be defined as the “pure” thing to do! Understanding this idea will have an effect on our current life so we don’t get carried away with all the bloodshed, till the day that no blood will be spilled anymore, as the prophet says: “Nation will not lift sword against nation, and there will no longer be a study of warfare.” (Isaiah 2,4)