Ki Tisa - Washing Away Bad Habits

The Netivot Shalom brings up the issue around the presence of the construction of the washing vessel in this week's parshah.

"Make a copper washing vessel along with a copper base for it. Place it between the alter and the communion tent and fill it with water for washing"
Shmot 30:18

He notes that many commentators ask:
Why does the construction of the copper washing vessel appear here and not earlier in Parshah Trumah along with the descriptions of the construction of the other vessels for the mishkan?
First, he makes the point that the copper washing vessel is in the same category as the external alter of the mishkan/Beit HaMikdash, which was also built from copper.

The Beit HaMikdash is structured in parallel to the human body. The body's main categories of organs can be divided into: the brain, the heart, and the other organs of the body.
The parallel aspects of the Beit HaMikdash are:
The Kodesh Kodeshim .............................. The mind
The Heichal (Chamber)............................... The heart
The Outer Courtyard .................................. The other organs 

The outcome of this connection is that each corresponding part of the Beit HaMikdash held holy influence over the Jewish People in it's corresponding section in the body.
The external alter in the Outer Courtyard corresponds to the organs of desire, and the copper washing vessel was in the Outer Courtyard along with the external alter. 
Here we see that the copper washing vessel was given by G-d to be used for preparation before the Kohanim went to perform their services in The Temple. Since how can man, made of flesh and blood, and born of a woman, be able to consider the possibility of approaching the holiness of  G-d and performing His service, is this not beyond the capacity of human beings?
Thus, the copper washing vessel was provided for preparation for entering the Tent of Meeting or for carrying out their service on the external alter. 

There is a hint, or reference, for washing the hands and the feet, that this represents tshuvah (repentance), that a Jew should repent in his preparation for serving The Holy One Blessed Be He. Water teaches repentance. For the issue of repentance, there are 2 forms of repentence
  1. Repentance for a sin, regretting an act that was done
  2. Repentance from your own reality, looking to change your lifestyle, worldview and habits
Changing your reality relates to the mind, while service of the heart and the other organs of the body relates to uprooting a the evil within those parts of the body, not repentance for a particular sin, rather repentance for the evil elements in the body. 

This was the purpose of using the copper washing vessel before service in the Temple, to purify the very reality of the person entering the Temple service. 
"Aaron and his sons must wash their hands and feet."
Shmot 30:19
Hands are called 'midot' (characteristics), that is the bad characteristics of a person. The feet are called the evil feet of the person, since there are some features of a person that are not necessarily bad characteristics but simply habits, and a way of behaving that he has become accustomed to, making it his very nature. Coming into the Tent of Meeting can be related to going to learn Torah. Or going to carry out the holy service on the external alter can be related to our own service to G-d. So washing our 'hands' and 'feet' refers to 'washing' and to purify ourselves of all of our bad characteristics and bad habits.
The copper washing vessel itself was not used in the service of G-d but it had a special role: it was used to prepare oneself for holy service, and therefore the paragraph of the copper washing vessel received a special placement in the Torah, not along side the other holy vessels.

Tetzaveh - Reaching Higher

"Make an alter to burn incense out of acacia wood. It shall be square, a cubit long and a cubit wide, and 2 cubits high, including its horns. Cover it with a layer of pure gold, on its top, its walls all around, and its horns. Make a gold rim all around it."
Shmot 30:1

The Ramban asks, why does the construction of the inner alter appear here in parsha Tetzaveh and does not appear earlier in parsha Trumah, where the construction of the mishkan and the other holy vessels is described?

The Kli Yakar explores the purpose and characteristics of the construction of the inner alter in his commentary on this verse. He starts off by saying that both the external and internal alters served to atone for a sinned soul. The copper (external) alter comes to atone for the materialistic and physical sins, for on it animals are brought to be sacrificed in one's place, since an animal resembles the physical side of man. The animals sacrificed on the external alter bear resemblance to the animalistic side of man.

Yet also the soul itself needs atonement, after it has been impurified by the body, and our soul is not atoned for by the animal, since there is no comparative resemblance between a man's soul within animals. As said by Shlomo HaMelech, "Who knows that the spirit of the children of men is that which ascends on high and the spirit of the beast is that which descends below to the earth?" (Kohelet 3:21). How can the temporary essence of an animal be compared to the immortal essence of man?

Thus The Living G-d commanded us to make an incense alter (internal alter) that will raise up a fragrance to Hashem, and to atone for the spirit of man that rises up high like the smoke of the incense. "Who is this coming up from the desert, like columns of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, of all the powder of the peddler?" (Shir HaShirim 3:6) of good deeds.

This comes to teach us and place in our hearts [this feeling] as it says "And you shall crush some of it very finely" (Shmot 30:36), making an allusion to the soul being an extremely brittle entity and also needs atonement in order to go up to the place that it was hewn from [to heaven].

The Kli Yakar continues to explain that the dimensions of the inner alter further testify to the unique qualities of the soul. The width and length are both measured in one unit, an amah each, alluding to the nature of the soul which is a single unit paralleling G-d being one. The height is two amot, alluding to the inherent nature of the soul which strives to always go higher. 

Another side which the internal alter parallels the nature of man's soul is in the inner alter's operations. The time for placing incense on the inner alter is in the morning and in the evening. The soul arrives, seemingly born, at sunrise and in the evening the soul returns to the Our Father, and we should wish that the soul comes and goes without sin.