Perhaps one of the most remarkably relevant Jewish prayers today is the Pitum HaKetoret, a text describing the aromatic incense compound that Kohanim would burn on an alter to G-d in the times of the Beit HaMikdash (the Temple).
You might be thinking, how is that relevant whatsoever?!
Well, the Pitum HaKetoret is much more than just detailed instructions. The abstract ideas behind the incense compound are powerfully analogous to the state of the world and society today. Moreover, the prayer has been deemed extraordinarily powerful, so much so that it can cause even a plague to end.
When animal sacrifices were an essential part of worship to G-d in the Beit HaMikdash, the aromatic incense compound described in the Pitum HaKetoret was burned on the altars as well. Literally and practically, the Rambam explains that this was done to fill the Beit HaMikdash with a pleasant fragrance to overpower the stench caused by animal sacrifices. He expounds on this idea in a spiritual sense as well by showing how the incense offering was effective in pushing away the Yetzer Hara (evil inclination) and even transforming it into something positive altogether.
The famed Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, as well as many other Jewish leaders throughout history, emphasize the miraculous and transformative effects of the Pitum HaKetoret. According to multiple sources, reciting this holy text with genuine intent, focus, and concentration can have the same transformative abilities of the incense offering itself.
With the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc around the globe, there is no better time than now to utilize the power of the Pitum HaKetoret. In honor of our mission to make prayer more accessible to all, Tefilot Israel has put together an informative video with historic and textual context for this prayer, as well as a voice recording of the prayer itself in its original Hebrew accompanied by English transliteration and translation. Please feel free to watch it below and follow along.
To request that our righteous Torah scholars in Jerusalem recite the Pitum HaKetoret on your behalf along with other relevant prayers at the Western Wall for 40 consecutive days, please register here.