Hearts on Fire: Insights from Hebrew

The concept of fire is the main characteristic of ‘Korban O’lah’ {קרבן עולה} (Hebrew for ‘burnt offering’). Let’s have a look at the biblical description:

“This is the law of the burnt offering. The burnt offering shall be on the hearth on the altar all night until the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be kept burning on it.” (Leviticus 6:9)

In the original Hebrew, the word for ‘hearth’ is ‘Moked.’ {מוקד} This rare Hebrew word appears in this form ONLY in this verse. But the root of this word Y-K-D {י-ק-ד} keeps repeating in the following verses and is even in the quoted verse (the words ‘kept burning’ appear as ‘Tukad’ {תוקד} in the original Hebrew, which is a verb form of ‘Moked’ {מוקד}).

The original usage of this biblical Hebrew word (‘Moked’) was connected ALWAYS to fire and it literally means ‘the place of the burning fire’.

In the ancient world (and even today) it is common that when a fire is burning (intentionally by man hands for a purpose such as cooking, warmth or enjoyment like a bonfire) it is placed right in the center, so people are circling it – as common to do in bonfires for example.

Over the years, the term for the ‘place of the burning fire’ became simply a synonym for ‘center’ as can be found in both Hebrew (the biblical word ‘Moked’ is used in Modern Hebrew as another word for ‘center’). In Latin, the original meaning of the word ‘focus’ was the ‘place of the burning fire’ – and that is also the reason why the word ‘focus’ in English relates to heat or ray of light.

When the Bible tells us about ‘the Perpetual Fire’ in the Temple, the Hebrew root Y-K-D {י-ק-ד} appears again – the original Hebrew word for ‘kept burning’ is ‘Tukad’ {תוקד} the same word we encountered in the verses that were mentioned above .

According to the “Kabbalah,” the Perpetual Fire’ burning in our hearts (‘heart’ is another synonym for ‘center’ also in Hebrew) symbolizes the strong connection with God which is in the center of our lives.