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Bais HaVaad on the Parsha, Parshas Tetzaveh

Clothing Arguments  

February 22, 2024

Excerpted and adapted from a shiur by HaRav Zev Leff    


You shall make vestments of sanctity for Aharon your brother, for glory and for splendor…and they shall make the vestments of Aharon, to sanctify him to minister to Me.

Shmos 28:2-3

The bigdei kehunah served two purposes: lekadsho (to sanctify the kohein) and lechavod ulesiferess (for glory and for splendor).

The essence of a person is his neshamah, given to him in the spiritual world before the body is formed. But just as an astronaut requires a spacesuit to function in space, the neshamah requires a physical body to fulfill its mission of observing the Torah in this world. After death, the neshamah returns to the spiritual world and the body stays behind.

Adam and Chavah demonstrated through their sin that sometimes the body rebels against the neshamah rather than serving it. So Hashem provided them with clothes to cover the body (Bereishis 3:21), reminding them that though the neshamah is hidden from view, it is a person’s essence. (The Hebrew word for clothing, beged, comes from bogeid (traitor), because the need for clothing arose from the body’s treachery.) On the other hand, the body is still visible when wearing clothes, and the Torah notes the physical beauty of Sarah, Yosef, and others. In addition, R’ Yochanan (Shabbos 113a) ascribed significance to clothes by calling them “mechabdusei (those things that honor me).” This is because clothing, worn properly, highlights a person’s inner beauty and enables others to discern it.

The two functions of the bigdei kehunah reflect these themes. They cover the kohein’s body to sanctify him and show that the key quality required for serving in the Bais Hamikdash is holiness (lekadsho), and they were physically beautiful (lechavod ulesiferess) to highlight the kohein’s spiritual beauty.



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