This week’s Toirah is dedicated to my nephew Daniel. May he recover fully and speedily.
Winter is just about over and it’s time to start thinking about the spring collection. This week, the RBSO dedicates kimat (nearly) half of Parshas Tetzave to the unveiling of the first ever designer collection. Mamish 43 pisukim consist of the RBSO’s detailed and colorful instructions to Moishe (without referring to him by name) regarding the making of the Bigday Kihuna (the priestly garments) for Aharoin, and his kinderlach (sons), who will perform the Avoida (service) in the Sanctuary. An entire parsha without Moishe’s name being mentioned, is that emes? Nu, Raboyseyee, sadly it taka is and it won’t kill you to check it out for yourselves. And if space permits, we’ll take a shtikel look at few of the reasons proffered as to this anomaly. And if we don’t, you can always look at last year’s Toirah where we zicher covered this sugya (topic). Says the heylige Toirah: These are the clothes which they shall make” And you shall make holy garments for Aharoin your brother, for dignity and for beauty.” Seemingly, the line had to be functional, dignified and also beautiful: the birth of a new industry. Efsher you’re klerring (wondering) why designer and custom made clothing was so vichtig (important) to the RBSO? Let’s not forget that the BNY are in the midbar- who’s going to see these nice outfits, or underneath them? Haven’t you ever left your house wearing a beautiful suit or dress while also donning your favorite pair of tzirisssine gotchkis (torn underwear)? Gotcha!
And what goes well with nice clothing? A few nice pieces of Jewelry, and a bit later in the Parsha, we’ll also learn a few pisukim that describe the jewels that adorned the wardrobes. In fact, a great majority of the parsha is about the creation of the Garment and Jewelry industries; let’s learn. Says the famous and oft quoted Achroin, Reb Wikipedia azoy: Haute Couture refers to the creation of exclusive custom-fitted clothing. Haute couture is made to order for a specific customer, and it is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finished by the most experienced and capable seamstresses, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques. Couture is a common abbreviation of haute couture and refers to the same thing in spirit. It originally referred to Englishman Charles Fredrick Worth’s work, produced in Paris in the mid-nineteenth century. You hear this gross distortion of history? It’s absolutely sheker (false) and a complete fabrication (pun intended). The RBSO Himself, over three thousand years ago created Haute Couture and not the farshtunkine Englisman Charles Fredrick, as we will learn in mamish just a minute. This is mamish indisputable as we learn of the extraordinary detail the RBSO gave in His instruction for the making of the Bigday Kihuna.
Why is the RBSO involved in the garment gisheft (business)? Ver veyst but He’s the RBSO and mistama He wanted his Koihanim who would serve in the Beis Hamikdash to look and dress nicely. Nu, efsher there is some logic to Shul Rabbis enforcing a dress code. Then again, are they playing God? Veyter. On the other hand: this wasn’t the first time the RBSO got involved with dressing His people and dressing the Koihanim seems only logical. The RBSO was a clothing designer? Nu, mistama you forgot that way back in the beginning of time, we learned that before the slithering snake seduced Chava (into eating the forbidden fruit- you chazir) and she her husband, they were prancing around Gan Eden nakitteheyt (totally naked) and were mamish not embarrassed. Ober (but) as soon they ate and became enlightened, they mamish discovered their nakedness. Why? Because the Yetzer Horah (evil inclination) entered their souls and caused them to be embarrassed. Mistama this was before scissors, waxing and the Brazillian and other beautifying methods were in vogue. Grada this is shver (difficult) to chap because more typically, when the Yetzer Horah enters, we lose our embarrassment; whatever. In any event, the RBSO made them clothing to cover their privates. Thus, the word begged which is related to both clothing and sin, reminds us of the sin of man and why we need clothing.
Efsher you’re wondering why the RBSO dedicated kimat an entire parsha to clothing and jewelry and so am I. Ober it’s the Oisvorfer’s policy not to ask the RBSO too many questions lest He start asking me a few: Yikes! The pisukim describe in very vivid and precise detail- down to the gatchkis (underwear) and with nothing left to the imagination, what garments the Koihanim, including the Koihain Godol, had to wear. Nu, is it a wonder that we’ve become shopping obsessed? Aren’t we but emulating the ways of the RBSO? So says the eishes chayil monthly when the AMEX bill arrives! Every koihain who served in the Beis Hamikdash wore four garments, each made of 100% white linen. They were: 1-kesoines (the tunic or shirt); 2- michnasayim, (the breeches), this is a pair of white linen boxer shorts worn under the Kisoines; 3 – avnait (the belt); and 4- a migba’as, (the turban). Collectively, this ensemble is referred to as the bigday koihain hedyot (garments of the ordinary koihain). And a few other interesting factoids that you oisvorfs might want to know. Ershtens: The turban worn by the koihain gadol was not of the same shape as that of an ordinary koihain. It was round and called a mitznefes and ever since, women and men have been buying designer hats. In contrast, that of an ordinary koihain was pointed on top and referred to as migba’as.
And is there any significance to these items that they get so much attention and detail? Seemingly there is and between the heylige Gemora and the Medrish we’re taught a few things about their symbolism and importance. Apparently, this wasn’t some ordinary line of shmattas, instead these 100% linen garments had magical powers of forgiveness; think: Yoim Kippur. How can a pair of hoizen (pants) that doesn’t cover the full leg have such powers? Ver veyst but this is what we’re taught. Each item in the collection atoned for sins of the Yiddin and the Koihanim, though mostly innocent of the charges, were charged with atoning for the sins of their non-koihain brethren. Are you chapping all this? Seemingly the Yiddin were chapping and that’s one of the avayrois that the clothing atoned for. Can clothing atone for wrongdoing? What a givaldige concept? Could that be yet another reason that women are always shopping? Are they atoning, and for what? Oy vey! Nu, ver veyst and let’s learn some more.
Says the heylige Gemora (Zevachim 88b) azoy: The kesoines (tunic) atoned for murders which were not punishable by Bais Din because of a lack of two credible witnesses. If such a murder had been committed among the Yiddin, the RBSO held the entire nation responsible and avada that’s what I call justice. Yet despite this guilt by association, the RBSO arranged for the kesoines to atone for this guilt. And what’s the rationale? Say the Medrish mamish so gishmak: the kesoines (tunic) was chosen for this specific cheyt (sin) since way back when, the heylige shvotim (Joseph’s brothers) dipped his kesoines into blood and avada then lied to their father, a cover up that lasted 22 years. How this heinous act of dipping their innocent brother’s blood soaked shirt atoned for murder, ver veyst but let’s go veyter- more atoning to come. Some say that the kesoines also atoned for the transgression of wearing sha’atnaiz (a mixture of wool and linen) – a chok (law on the books without rationale or at least our ability to understand it) we learned about a few weeks back- one of those commandments that avada we must follow. Nu, if this outer garment was capable of atoning for murder, you can only imagine what the hoizen (pants- or breeches) had to atone for, if you chap. Nu, I see you did chap and taka you’re right: The michnasayim atoned for immorality, I needn’t fill in the blanks, seemingly the Yiddin did, if you chap. Bottom line: The breeches atoned for lewdness, as it is said, “And you shall make them linen breeches to cover the flesh of their nakedness” (Shmois 28:42).
The mitznefes or migbois atoned for arrogance. Said the RBSO: “Let the headdress that is worn on the koihain’s head atone for the sin of holding the head too high. The avnait was worn over the heart and therefore atoned for improper thoughts of the heart. It was thirty-two amos long, equivalent to the numerical value of lev (heart) which is thirty-two.
And what about the koihan godol- the big kihuna? His wardrobe consisted of the four items listed above and four additional garments, termed the bigday zahav (golden garments). They were: 1- me’il (the mantle) 2- aifod (the apron); 3- choishen (the breastplate) and 4- tzitz, (the head-plate).
The choishen atoned for the sin of perverted judgment since it was worn over the kohain’s heart. False judgment emanates from improper thoughts of the heart. The aifod atoned for the transgression of idol worship. Says the Novee: The idol worshipers generally used to wear an aifod-like robe (Shoftim 14:14). The aifod worn by the koihanim thus atoned for idols which were usually worshipped while wearing this type of garment. The me’il atoned for loshoin horo (bad mouthing) but only if spoken in a public forum. For privately spoken loshoin horo- what that means I don’t know- there was a different prescription for atonement and for this type, the koihanim had to burn kitoires (incense). How all these things worked is mamish a mystery to me, then again so was the sourcing of all the material to make this entire line. Ober chap nisht, we left out one item: the Tzitz which was worn on the koihain gadol’s forehead. This article atoned for chutzpa and brazenness, so says the Novee (prophet- (Yirmeyahu 3:3)). According to another opinion, it atoned for blasphemy.
Speaking of burning ktoires seeking atonement, The Kli Yakar explains that when a person sins, it causes spiritual damage to both his body and his soul, (mistama after experiencing immense physical pleasure to both). By offering animals on this Altar, atonement was effected for the physical, animalistic body that sinned. This is alluded to by the fact that the copper Altar was three cubits tall, which is the height of the physical body of an average person (Eiruvin 48a).
Was all this necessary in the Midbar? Where and how were they able to procure all the items necessary to make all, some, or even any of these items? Ober- let’s not forget that if the RBSO said to go get it, He also mistama made sure it was somewhere to be found. We’re back in the scavenger hunt.
Avada nice clothing looks even nicer when bedecked in jewels and the RBSO avada had a keen sense of style and taste. Says the heylige Toirah: On the hem [of the Cloak] you shall make… bells of gold… and its sound shall be heard when he (the Koihain Godol) goes in to the Holy (28:33-35).
The koihanim got not just free clothing but also lots of jewels. Listen to this: 17 And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, four rows of stones: a row of carnelian, topaz, and smaragd shall be the first row; 18 and the second row a carbuncle, a sapphire, and an emerald; 19 and the third row a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; 20 and the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper; they shall be enclosed in gold in their settings. Nu…it’s good to be the big kihunna!
Says the possik “And you shall make the Robe (Me’il) [worn under] the Ephod, entirely of blue wool. And its top opening shall be inwards; its opening shall have a border all around of woven work; like the opening of a coat of mail shall it have; it shall not be torn. And you shall make on its hem pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet wool for its hem all around, and golden bells in the midst of them all around: a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, all around the lower edge of the Robe. And it shall be [worn] on Aharoin to minister; and its sound shall be heard when he comes to the Holy, before Hashem, and when he goes out, so that he shall not die.” Hanging from the hemline are 72 golden bells that jingle with every step. Between the bells hang 72 woolen ornamental pomegranates. As you can imagine, the Koihain Gadol made a lot of noise when he walked and seemingly this was intentional so as not to surprise anyone, especially the RBSO when he entered into the holy of holies.
Nu if this isn’t couture, what is? Did you pay attention to the detail, the design, the fabrics? Cleary the RBSO was also worried about the metrosexuals and maybe even the other sexuals, if you chap and wanted them to have a profession as well. He is, after all, the RBSO and avada He worries about all his kinderlach, even the faygilich. If you didn’t know that this is the heylige Toirah, one could mamish envision Project Runway.
Said Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai: There are four things which the Holy One, blessed be He, hates, and I too dislike them… [the fourth thing is,] one who enters his house suddenly–much more so his neighbor’s house (his words, not mine).
The heylige Gemora tells us that Rabbi Akiva instructed his son R. Yehoshua that, among the seven ways a true talmid chacham can be recognized is “Do not enter your house ― and certainly not your friend’s house ― suddenly (Pesachim 112a).” When R. Yoichanan would enter his house he would make a shaking sound. The Rashbam cites this verse as the source for the practice of Rabbi Yoichanan, which was to knock on the door of his own home before entering. It seems logical to assume that the verse indicates that a person is required to announce himself before entering someone else’s home, not his own. The novelty of Rabbi Yoichanan’s actions seems to be that he would knock before entering his own home. Efsher he had an unpleasant experience when he once arrived home from yeshiva in the middle of the day and entered without knocking? Ver veyst (who knows)?
The Yalkut Shimoni says that we are to learn a lesson from these bells about barging into a room, even in our own houses. Rather, one should knock and then enter unless of course one suspects that chas v’sholom, something illicit is going on behind the door (last part – mine), if you chap. In that case, the element of surprise is zicher helpful, though not always a happy ending.
And taka why is Moishe missing? The bottom line: the RBSO wrote the heylige Toirah and if He didn’t want Moishe’s name mentioned, it’s none of our business. You heard my advice earlier: it’s not for us to ask. Our job is believe and love the RBSO.Do you want Him asking questions about your less than admirable behavior, if you chap. Ober, since Moishe’s name was omitted from the Parsha, the first since his birth and the last until his death is mentioned in the last Parsha in the gantze (entire Toirah), let’s instead take a close look at his elterer brider (older brother) Aharoin who, together with his sons, is the subject of the Parsha.
Ober before we do, efsher we can klerr that the RBSO had a plan when He decided to leave Moishe’s name out of the Parsha? Grada (so happens) that everyone talks about this factoid but few, in fact, kimat no one, talks about the fact that Aharoin’s name is also missing from a Parsha. Nu, before you lose interest, let me tell you that his name does not make an appearance in Parshas Vayikra. And given that Vayikra is all about korbanois, and, as Koihen Gadol, korbanois were Aharoin’s gig, it seems strange that he does not feature. What’s taka pshat? Says the peirush HaRosh (6:2) citing the Medrish (Vayikra Rabbah 7:1), who mistama heard it from someone else who mistama made it up, that this was because Aharoin was still on the outs with the RBSO – ‘temporarily rejected,’ due to his role in the chayt ha’egel (golden calf). And if you’re wondering how it was that the RBSO had already forgiven the rest of the Yiddin while poor Aharoin who was the only person not interested in making the eygel, was still in the proverbial doghouse, avada there’s an answer. Says the RambaN quoted by the Kli Yokor (Vayikra 4:20 and Ibn Ezra Bereishis 32:9) that the RBSO punishes tzadikim (the righteous) more harshly than He does other people. And taka why? Nu, depends who you ask but some say the reason is partly because the greater one is, the more the more the RBSO expects. Others say it’s because the RBSO wants to cleanse every trace of sin from the tzadik in this world so that he can get to enjoy the next world, ver veyst. In either event, most of you are in the clear. And how many times have I told you that you’re better off not being a tzadik: no good can come of it, at least not in this world.
“Be of the disciples of Aaron: one who loves peace, pursues peace, loves G-d’s creatures and draws them close to Torah” (Ethics of the Fathers 1:12), so we are taught and we therefore assume that Aharoin was a great guy. And seemingly he was. And though Moishe seems to get top billing and was the only person to ever speak directly to the RBSO, it’s time we give Aharoin some credit: he too was a good guy.
In fact, if you read the Toirah carefully, you’ll conclude that Moishe and Aharoin worked as a tag team. Aharoin was always at Moishe’s side; at times his role even more pronounced than this younger brother but at all times, ever present. It was Aharoin that performed the first miracles that the RBSO showed Paroy and it was Aharoin who executed the initial plagues: we are taught that Moishe had epes a conflict of interest with the water, having been saved by the same water altz kint (as a young child) In many instances when the RBSO talks to Moishe, He’s also talking to Aharoin at the same time. When the RBSO commands His first mitzvah to the Yiddin, it is addressed “to Moishe and to Aharoin”—a phrase that often appears in the Toirah. When the Yiddin complain, it is “to Moishe and to Aharoin” that they address their grievances; when Koirach challenged Moishes’ leadership, it was a rebellion also (indeed, primarily) against Aharoin’s place in the leadership. Is Aharoin a second fiddle? Seemingly, Aharoin is Moishe’s full partner in the events and undertakings that forge a clan of liberated slaves into the RBSO’s Chosen people.
Indeed, there is a Midrash that reveals that, originally, Moishe was destined to be the Koihain and Aharoin the Levi (levite), and that the RBSO reversed their roles when Moishe refused his commission at the Burning Bush. Nu, a burning bush would distract anyone, if you chap. According to this, the brothers’ roles are not only interdependent, but also interchangeable!
-A gitten shabbos-