Aron and his sons were singled out from among the other Jews “Leh’kahanoh Lee” to be a Kohen for Me. Rashi: Lekahanoh – what does this mean – -“to serve.”
As part and parcel of being a Kohain, there were special clothing (8-world to come/spiritual – see past posts about the significance of 8). Last week, we discussed building of Tabernacle and how that mirrors creation of world. This week, we talk about the Kohain’s clothing, so we go back to the original articles of clothing created by G-d.
The first time the Torah discusses clothing is after Chayt Adam (after the sin of Adam and Chava of eating the fruit that was forbidden). The narrative says that upon eating the fruit they ended up realizing they were naked. G-d, therefore, made for them clothing. In fact, the Midrash says they got the same clothing as the Kohain Gadol.
RABBEINU BACHYA: Man is the Sechel/rational/brain. He was placed in Gan Eden – he was placed in midst of Torah study. He was instructed about two trees (positive and negative commandments of the Torah). He was not to be alone, G-d gave him a “helpmate:, a woman as a wife. This is the body we get to actualize our thoughts. You see a brain cannot accomplish alone – it needs the body function to carry out its will. The snake is the evil inclination/evil force. He begins with the function aspect, with the body, trying to get us to “taste” of the physical stuff we should not be around. Once that happens, the body “feeds” the intellect the forbidden. The intellect tries to rationalize and want what the body wants. At this point things flip in the world. Up until now, there was true and false in the world (not right and wrong). Now, with getting bodily desires in the picture, everything is clouded and there is right and wrong, rather than true and false. Man and woman (body and intellect) realize they are “naked”, that they are stripped of seeing truth as is. Man and woman hide, but G-d seeks them out – there will be a day of death for all of us when we will have to answer to G-d, and G-d will say, “Ayecha – where are you – what is your spiritual standing.” Our rationalization will be “our bodily desires made us mess up.” The body will then say, “the evil force in the world misled me”. The punishment is painful sensations in the body that craved the pleasurable sensations. But eventually, G-d will “clothe” body/soul combination in a spiritual light and undo the harm.
In this week’s Torah reading, it talks about the Kohain’s clothing and how v. 2 his clothing will be “for respect and for beauty.” v. 3 – the clothing were made to “sanctify” him ..so that, v. 4 “he can serve Me” Seems clothing makes the Kohain and gives him the ability to serve. Why did the clothing make the man?
According to the Sefer HaChinuch, the Kohain had to have the purest, loftiest intentions, and being clothed in specific clothing kept them focused. Think of the little girl wearing the party dress, how she swishes it and walks with dainty steps. Clothing can make people act differently.
The Malbim explains that the commandment to make the bigdei Kehuna was given twice. Firstly, it was directed to Moshe Rabbeinu and then to the craftsmen. The craftsmen and tailors actually assembled the priestly garments, but Moshe had to first instruct Aharon in ways to perfect the character traits they represented. This character development is the ultimate bigdei Kehuna. For just as our wardrobe covers our bodies, so too, our middos cover our neshamos (souls).
The Akeidas Yitzchok explains that the Hebrew word for character trait, midda, also means “measure”. There was a mitzva that the bigdei Kehuna had to be a perfect fit – made to measure (mido vad, his tunic should be made k’midoso, according to his size, Yoma 23b). It is not one size fits all. We have to figure out how to give ourselves the correct measurement of each character trait.
The Kohain Gadol would wear something on his forehead to remember to focus his thoughts to Hashem. From Rabbi Lazer Brody, quoting the Breslover Rebbe:
Rebbe Nachman of Breslev explains (Sichos HaRan, 46), “One must exercise great caution in guarding thoughts, for thoughts can yield tangible outcomes. Know, that each of a person’s respective attributes that is higher than another has more far-reaching implications. For example: A foot can kick an object so far, but a hand can throw higher than a foot can kick. Speech can be heard at level way beyond where the hand is able to throw. Hearing is higher than speech, for one can hear the thundering of a cannon from miles away. Sight extends even further, for one can see the stars in the sky. Thoughts are very, very lofty, and extend beyond everything, and therefore must be protected even more than anything else!
There is a verse elsewhere in the Torah where we Jews are told “and you shall be to Me a nation of priests”. Therefore, lessons and instructions for the priests within our nation have ramifications for us as a people. Just as the priests had special clothing of significance that differentiated them and sanctified them, so too must the Jews have a manner of dress that sets them apart and makes them more spiritual/sanctified. We should always look more dignified, remembering we are soldiers of Hashem, representing G-dliness in the world. Examples: clothing of dignity, tzniyus, etc.
Some related laws to clothing of Jews:
A Torah sage who goes about with stained clothing is liable for the death penalty.
One should not wear exceedingly cheap clothing (as it takes away his self-esteem) – nor should one wear exceedingly expensive clothing (as it leads to arrogance).
One should spend extra money to have good shoes.
People put on a special garment for prayer, just as the priest put on special clothes for the service – within Yeshiva crowds, men put on their jacket and hat before beginning prayers and Chassidim add a belt called a ‘gahrtil”
The Kohain Gadol had a garment called the Me’il. On the bottom of it there were 72 little bells and 72 little pomegranates hanging. The Torah says each of the bells was to be surrounded by pomegranates (even though it was equal since it was bell/pomegranate/bell/pomegranate etc.) The Alshich says this is to teach us that each word we speak should be surrounded by two measures of silence (each bell was sandwiched between two silent rimonim) – we should always be more silent than outspoken. Speak less than your silence. In fact, the Gemorah tells us that folks who are empty are the ones who always want to speak up and make sound. The parable given is that an empty Tzedaka pushka (charity box) makes a loud rattling sound while a full pushka makes no sound. Noisy folks are usually empty of meaning inside and therefore want to be noticed. “Siyag L’Chachma Shteeka” – the best fence for wisdom is silence. We should learn how to not speak as well as we speak.
In the ritual of inaugurating the Kohain for their task, there were different parts of their body that were anointed and they were:
X marks the spot – there was an anointing done with oil, two drops were put between the eyebrows and then the anointer made an X with his finger in the oil. Tefillin is also there – that is the place of the Neshama.
Other parts of the body “sanctified” during the inaugural process and what it represents:
Middle cartilage of the ear – control the incoming sound
The Thumb of the right hand – the opposable thumb – creativity
And the Big toe of their right foot – balance
Basically, the Kohain was being enlisted in the service of G-d, his soul, his creativity, his sense of right and wrong and what he allows into his life.
Verse 38: Korban Tamid – each day – one sacrifice in morn and one in evening for all of the Jews.
GOLD ALTAR AND INCENSE
How to build the gold altar (located within the Kodesh)
Incense brought here morning and evening (when the candles go out in the morning and when they get relit in the evening)
The incense was lit inside – in the inner chamber, but the smell wafted all the way out of Yerushalayim. Each person’s actions in private has widespread effect, even beyond the realm he is located in.
Story about this is told by Rabbi Paysach Krohn: an unaffiliated Jew came into a Yeshiva in the Midwest and said he wants to donate the full amount of a new building for the Yeshiva. The amazed administrator asked if he knew anyone in this Yeshiva that prompted the generosity. The guy said no. He was a completely unaffiliated Jew who never kept any Mitzvos. So the administrator asked him what possessed him to donate this huge amount to an Orthodox place. He said he had gone on a tour to Israel and visited the Kosel. While there, he saw a Meah Shearim Jew praying his heart out, swaying with emotion and sincerity. The non-Observant guy “born in the USA” was so inspired he decided he wanted to do a big Mitzva in honor of this man. So when he got home he said he was going to give a lot of charity. He then thought, that guy was Orthodox, so I should probably give the charity to a place he’d approve of. So he opened the phonebook, found the nearest Yeshiva, and offered them a new building. And that is why a Yeshiva in the USA has a new building. And some man in Meah Shearim has no clue that when he gets to Heavens he will be getting reward for enabling Torah study there to happen. He has no clue that what he did in his “inner chamber” wafted so far away, across the world, to have an impact across the globe. Do the right thing. It travels beyond you.