Weekly Parsha Review Laced with Humor and Sarcasm from The Oisvorfer Ruv

Tetzaveh 2014 – The Concept of Clothing

s9042-11Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:

Just about every week, the Oisvorfer receives comments from his readers and mamish appreciates them all. From time to time, a few are shout-out worthy and this week we begin with this comment from a reader somewhere over in France who wrote:

Dear Ruv, magnificent post I must say, I am very impressed you never cease to amaze me, the new angles on the same Torah portions!!!

your loyal reader

Ruv’s response: who says the French are good for nothing? It’s mamish not emes. Delighted mamish to hear from you.

The concept of clothing:

Early on Tuesday morning, ich veys, approximately 6:45AM, the eishes chayil announced that she was off to the city. Biderech klal (typically), women who live in the suburbs and go to the city, do so for one reason: shopping and to be more precise, clothing or shoe shopping. And while most husbands cringe whenever their wives announce an early morning city trip, it so happens that having nice clothing may taka be a Toirah requirement. Was she off to do a mitzvah? And so we will taka learn this week as we cover a portion of Parshas Tetzaveh which dedicates 43 pisukim, kimat (roughly) 50% of the entire parsha to clothing. Nu, mistama the eishes chayil, learned as she is from having edited the weekly parsha review these last four years, was thinking that she is mamish fulfilling the RBSO’s will and efsher performing a mitzvah, maybe one with each purchase? The RBSO did taka order a designer line of clothing be made and worn. Ober the eishes chayil conveniently forgot that the instructions were for men only and then, only certain of those men? This mitzvah was given to the koihanim (priests) with special emphasis on the clothing of the koihain godol (big kahuna). Nu, efsher we can kler that the eishes chayil, being a bas koihen (daughter of a Koihain), thought these instructions also included her, ver veyst.  It’s one thing for women to participate in the mitzvah of Tefilin, why not let them strap on, if you chap, ober to chap away entirely the mitzvah of beautiful clothing given mamish to men only? What’s taka pshat? Ver veyst! Nu, some suggest that beautiful clothing can lead to mixed dancing and efsher even some sholom bayis, if you chap. Veyter.

Who was the world’s first and most famous clothing designer? And who was the first ever to embed jewelry into clothing? The RBSO, that’s who! Why was the RBSO so involved with clothing design and was this taka His first ever collection? The first question, we will answer soon. As to the second, the answer is seemingly not and zicher you recall that way back when, on the very 6th day of creation, according to some, the RBSO created the first ever clothing line. His and hers outfits fashioned out of leather. He did what?

Mistama you long forgot or never knew that way back in parsha Bereishis, the RBSO, on day six of creation, created Man and mistama later that day but zicher before candle lighting, seemingly also created the first ever set of clothing. It was on that very day that Odom was born and also somehow found the time to marry Chava and mistama while honeymooning over in Gan Eden also had time to take a bite out of the forbidden fruit. Seemingly even back then with only one woman in the gantze velt (entire world), Odom was already attracted to forbidden fruit, if you chap. Though they were running around Gan Eden mamish nakit (in the nude), seemingly no one noticed, not even they. Ober once they became enlightened, they noticed their nudity and covered themselves with fig leaves. Says the heylige Toirah  (Bereishis 2:25) azoy:  they started out “naked and unashamed”, but after eating from the Eitz Had’as (tree of knowledge), “they became aware of their nakedness, and made themselves clothes” (Bereishis 3:7). Seemingly, they made the first ever clothing.


However, and not very long after, the RBSO, seemingly unhappy with their choice of cover-up, made them each a Kesoines (shirt or tunic) of עור (leather). And this week, as stated above, we have half a parsha dedicated to clothing. We will learn about another Kesoines, this one worn by the koihanim. Why was clothing introduced just because they ate fruit? Is there a connection?

Seemingly the two, embarrassment/shame and clothes are connected, ober how?  It appears that in the Hebrew language, the words for clothes and embarrassment share a root word. Both words share three letters, or the root word of ‘boosh’- spelled  “beis”, “vov” and “shin”. Nu, it’s clear you have no clue where the Ruv is going with this, let’s try again. The word for shame in Hebrew is “busha” while the word for clothes is “levush”. Both words are connected by the root letters “beis”, “vov” and “shin” and are clearly related.  Busha is embarrassment or shame.  It is the feeling of falling short of what was expected. Nu, efsher it’s possible that Odom had this feeling once he realized he was taka naked, if you chap. Or, efsher we can kler that it was Chava who noticed his shortcomings, ver veyst. To emphasize this definition, “busha” is related grammatically to a word “boishaish” meaning to wait for something to happen that never transpires. We will find this word next week when Moishe, according to the  Eygel participants, disappears for one extra day.

Ober why clothing and how was this the remedy to their sin? Says the Medrish (Rabba): there were three basic functions these garments served.  Firstly, since they were given to Odom on Erev Shabbis, mistama they were in honor of the heylige Shabbis. Shoin erleydigt (settled): a nice suit for shabbis is imperative, even if he ate forbidden fruit!  Why a leather suit, ver veyst?  And how do we know this? Because we know that Odom sinned on Friday, and the RBSO clothed him in a handsome shabbos suit, mistama the first ever, efsher even double breasted, if you chap.  Secondly, because he was a first-born, in fact, the first ever born, he was also the first to bring korbonois (animal sacrifices) to the RBSO.  In other words: he was acting like a koihain. And as the acting Koihain, he needed to dress like one. Accordingly the RBSO made him clothing suitable for the Kehuna (at that time).  Finally, a fascinating Medrish we will learn in this week’s parsha will tell us that Aharoin merited wearing the clothing of the Koihain Godol because he studied the heylige Toirah.

And what does this Medrish teach us? Ershtens (firstly), we see that the RBSO was quite serious about clothing, mamish from the get-go. He Himself made outfits for Odom and Chava. Seemingly Chava passed down the leather gene to many other women over the generations, a dominant gene most women still carry.  Efsher they now yearn for the Tefilin straps as a result, ver veyst. Moreover, we learned mamish just above that it’s mashma (appears) that shabbis clothing are meant to be nicer than the average weekday dress. Of course we see, or should, how important it is to dress appropriately when performing a mitzvah.  Ober what is the  Aharoin story doing in this medrish? So, listen to this mamish gishmak medrish which tells us azoy: by Odom being the #1 person and acting as the #1 koihain while bringing sacrifices to the RBSO, he also needed to be dressed like a koihain – which is mamish the subject matter of this week’s parsha. And the bottom line: seemingly when it comes to Toirah, Avoida, and Shabbis, as represented by the three examples of people wearing special clothing, it appears that more formal  attire to match the significance of their stature, is in order.

Moreover, it appears from the Odom /Chava myseh (story) that clothing removes embarrassment and taka says the heylige  Gemora (Shabbos 77b) azoy: the word  levush -meaning clothes- can be broke down into two words:  loi-vush (without shame).  Said Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin: Before eating from the Tree, Odom and Chava saw each other, first and foremost, as souls. They knew the soul is the essence of a human being, with the body serving merely as a protective covering. Given their  focus on the spiritual side, they weren’t self-conscious about their bodies. However, after eating from the Tree, their spiritual level dropped and “their eyes opened”  to a focus on the body. The body had now become a distraction from the soul and it needed to be covered. Hence the concept of clothes was born! Is that gishmak or what?

And says Rabbi Moshe Shapiro (whoever he his) azoy: before the Cheyt (sin), Odom and Chava possessed a Guf (body) on a similar level to their Nefesh (soul)  but the big sin caused a division between the body and soul;  and since that time, revelation of the body causes shame. Clothes can thus cover up our shame. Also gantz gishmak.

And how do Odom, Chava and their clothing tie into our parsha? Nu, listen to this also mamish gishmak medrish as quoted by  Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch which tell us that the garments the RBSO made for Odom and Chava  are referred to by our sages  as  “the garments of the Kohanim”. Since the garments “called out” to mankind to re-prioritize and elevate themselves, they functioned much like the special garments given to the Kohanim. It’s mamish a double gishmak and something you can say over at the shabbis tish (table) in between other loshoin hora you will be hearing in shul (depending where you live) this coming shabbis about people and even rabbis without their clothing. Oy vey and stay tuned!

And the bottom line: at times, clothes make the man, but efsher we can also suggest that man makes the clothes. Nu, let’s get out of Bereishis and talk a little about our parsha and clothing Says the heylige Toirah (Shemos 28:2) azoy:  “You shall make garments of Kedusha for Aharoin your brother, for glory (Kavod) and splendor (Tiferes). And these are the garments that they shall make: a breastplate, an apron, a jacket, a patterned tunic, a turban, and a belt. And they shall make sacred garments for Ahron your brother and for his sons so that they will serve as priests to me. All of which were made of white linen. The Koihen Godol (High Priest) wore an additional four golden garments, including the mantle, the apron, the breastplate, and the headplate. Attached to the bottom of the mantle were 72 hollow ornaments in the shape of pomegranates alternating with 72 golden bells. The bells tinkled to announce the arrival of the Kohen Gadol to the sanctuary. Shoin. Space permitting, we’ll review an interesting medrish about the bells. 

Efsher you’re wondering why the RBSO would want clothing made for glory and splendor; does clothing taka make the man? And why was the clothing line that the koihanim were instructed to wear so critical to the RBSO? In case you’re wondering why the RBSO would get involved with such minute details as fabric, color selection and styling and the unusual detail in describing each item, down to the interhoizen (underwear), you’re not alone. Seemingly the RBSO wanted his koihanim well dressed and as has been stated over and again, this is the RBSO we are talking about. If He gave Moishe such specific instructions, mistama there’s a reason. And who said you have to know that reason?

And what would taka happen if the Kohain didn’t wear this exact clothing? What would be so giferlich if he wore Underarmour or a pair of Calvins or Polos under his michnosayim (pants)? Says the heylige Toirah: if he did not wear these exact vestments, then any service he performed was invalid and he could get the death penalty- Yikes! Go know how important underwear could be. Seemingly going commando was not advised. Still we have to be klerring (thinking) why designer and custom made clothing was so vichtig (important) to the RBSO? Let’s not forget that the Yiddin were in the midbar; who was going to see these nice outfits, or underneath them? Haven’t you ever left your house with a beautiful suit or dress with your old and favorite pair of almost tzirisssine gotchkis (torn underwear)?

Interestingly enough, the Ramban compares the bigdei kehuna (kohain’s wardrobe) to those of a King, with all their pomp and glory. Ober still there must be a deeper meaning underlying the Bigdei Kehuna, to explain the prominence and detail that the heylige Toirah gives it. What is it? Nu, listen to this bombshell!

Says the heylige Gemora (Eyrichin 16) azoy: each of these garments atoned for different sins. Whose sins? Nu, soon we’ll learn. Says the heylige Gemora (Zevachim 88b) that taka there was a deeper purpose in the design of the Priestly clothing line. Moreover, the begadim (clothing) are a participant in the atonement of the sinner, efsher the first line of active wear? Asked Reb Einini Bar Sasson azoy: Why is the parsha of korbanos adjacent to the parsha of bigdei kehuna? Answers the heylige Gemora azoy: to teach us that just as the korbanois bring atonement, so too, the bigdei kehuna bring atonement.” Ober still we are left with this question: Does the mere act of someone wearing a particular garment automatically atone for everyone else’s sins? And if it does, why not offer them to the real sinners? The Oisvorver see mass market appeal in this line.

Wait.  The Gemora has more to say and will also explain how this magical wardrobe worked and what each item in the collection was. Seemingly this line is not just for show; they are active during the avodah!  Zugt de heylige Gemora azoy (says the Gemora):  the wearing of the garments served as atonement for various transgressions. Interestingly enough, though it wasn’t the Koihanim that sinned, still they had the job of getting all dressed up in special forgiveness clothing. What’s p’shat? Can we hire a middleman to rid ourselves of our sins? Let’s learn the Gemora:

The Kesoines (tunic) atoned for murder, a sin committed by one’s hands; the hoizen (trousers) for illicit relations, done with one’s lower body, if you know chap, and sadly you do. The hoizen (trousers) were atonement for the sin of immorality because avada it’s understood that biderech klall (typically) men (and a few women as well) instinctively have desires. The strongest desire is the animal instinct for sexual pleasure. The trousers are supposed to give cover, protect the soldier, if you chap, from harm’s way, to teach us that man is supposed to be above the level of an animal and must contain his instinctive desires and of course have absolute control of his commando soldier. Hence the expression: keep it in your pants! Nu, thankfully the RBSO appointed a good number of koihanim to atone for the renegade soldiers. Nu, efsher you’re wondering who did the atoning and whose pants were used when the Koihain himself  turned rouge. That topic for another day.

The belt was 32 amos long! It bulged around the Koihain’s midsection so that his arms were constantly bumping against it. It was atonement for wrongful thoughts and desires: no wonder it was 64 feet long. The belt is supposed to separate the heart from the lower body. This teaches us that man (and a few women) must separate his emotions (heart) from his animalistic desires (lower body). A man should love his eishes chayil not for her beauty (animalistic desires) but for her deeds. Nu, we all know that didn’t work out too well; perhaps the belt wasn’t long enough! The hittel (hat) atoned for arrogance, a crime of thought and attitude and the list goes on.

One of the outer garments that the Koihain Godol (High Priest) wore was the me’il, or robe. The me’il was made entirely of turquoise wool, and was worn over the head like a poncho. Hanging all around the me’il’s hem were pomegranate-shaped tassels of turquoise, purple, and scarlet wool, and among the tassels were golden bells, each with a ringer. Says the heylige Gemora:  the noise made by the bells of the me’il atoned for the sin of the “noise” made by one who speaks loshoin horo, (evil speech or gossip). What is the exact connection between the bells on the robe and the sin of gossip, and what was the purpose and symbolism of the pomegranate-shaped tassels that surrounded the bells?

Says the possik “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 were 72 golden bells that jingled with every step. Between the bells hung 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. Efsher you’re thinking- what’s the big deal? Why would the RBSO be surprised, wasn’t Aharoin as the Koihain Godol the only one expected? There must be epes a more reasonable explanation and of course the heylige Gemora and Medrish, as expected, chime in with a few.

Said Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai: There are four things which the Holy One, blessed be He, hates and the fourth thing is one who enters his house suddenly. Says the heylige Gemora (Pesochim 112a): Rabbi Akiva instructed his son Reb Yehoishua azoy:  among the seven ways a true talmid chacham can be recognized, is by not entering his house suddenly. Though he didn’t say it, mistama he also had in mind that one shouldn’t enter his friend’s house suddenly either, if you chap.  Back to the Gemora: When Reb Yoichanan would enter his own 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?

Says the Yalkut Shimoni: 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 chas v’sholom (heaven forbid), that something illicit is going on behind the door. In that case, the element of surprise is zicher helpful, though not always a happy ending.

Even with all the explanations, and there are more, the concept of clothing forgiving sins remains rather elusive: how does wearing clothing improve one’s heavenly balance sheet? And how does wearing special hoizen (pants) forgive sins of a sexual nature? Is that all it takes? And if this is taka emes, shouldn’t this special ‘forgiveness collection’ be made available to all? Efsher we can kler that the wearing of these pants would act as a deterrent? The bottom line: this is what the RBSO ordered and wearing special pants was zicher a lot easier than klapping 500 al chets and fasting on Yoim Kippur.

And says the Akeidas Yitzchak so gishmak azoy: The vestments of the Koihain Godol were meant not just to be worn, but to be analyzed. His clothing was designed to teach numerous lessons. By wearing those articles of clothing, he brought those messages to the forefront of his mind and to all those who saw him. Even nowadays, when we do not have the actual garments, we can carefully examine the Toirah’s description of the vestments, and derive from them vital lessons for our everyday living. In other words: learn the parsha weekly. Does this really work? Ver veyst.

A gittin shabbis-

Yitz Grossman

The Oisvorfer Ruv

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