Torah Portion: Yisro
Do not climb up to My altar with steps, so that your nakedness not be revealed on it (Shemos 20:23).
It is a negative commandment to not climb to the Altar by stairs, so that [the kohen] would not take wide steps while going up, as it is written, Do not climb up to My altar with steps, so that your nakedness not be revealed on it (Shemos20:23). Instead, when he goes up there, he is to walk calmly and with awe—heel next to toe.
Among the roots of this mitzvah: It is to set in ourselves awe for the place and its importance. Therefore we were warned to behave there with no levity whatsoever. Now, all know that stones do not become insulted; they neither see nor hear. Rather, the whole matter is to make vivid in ourselves the awe, importance, and great majesty of the place. For through one’s actions is the heart influenced.
This mitzvah applies when the Temple stands, to both men and women. One who willfully transgresses it is liable for lashes.