Posted on February 24, 2014
Written by Rachel Provance
Far West USY
In this week’s Parsha, Tetzaveh, the basic garments of a Kohane are discussed. The basic garments consisted of a turban, shirt, pants, and belt. The Kohane Gadol wore four additional garments: the Me’ill – a long outer robe; the Ayphod – a quilted vest or bibbed apron; the Choshen – jeweled breastplate; and the Tzitz – an engraved, golden, forehead plate. The long outer robe is described. The hem of this garment was edged with small bells intended to announce the presence of the Kohane Gadol as he walked through the Bait Hamikdash. All the garments were handmade of the finest white linen. The special vestments of the Kohane Gadol were woven from a special thread spun from five different colored threads, including a thread made of pure gold. The last vessel to be described is the inner, golden Altar, used to burn the daily incense offering. This offering could only be performed by the Kohane Gadol. As we see in this parsha, the Kohain Gadol wore holy pieces, pieces that announced his presence and displayed his importance.
When I read of the importance and sheer wonder of the Kohane Gadol’s elaborate wardrobe, I thought about what Jews today are wearing. While it’s safe to say none of us are dressed as elaborately as the Kohane, the way we look is a reflection of who we are, on the inside. I’m sure many of you have heard a speech similar to this one before; it is important that we dress to reflect our values, ourselves, and often, are faith. Tzniut, modesty, is an extremely important concept, one the Jewish faith clings close to. How, however, do we apply this Tzniut to our daily lives?
As a high school teen, I have searching eyes on me all day, and unfortunately, most are searching for something they can make fun of. In an ideal world, no one would be judged by what they wore. It’s inevitable, however, that often you are seen for your attire rather than your true self. This itself is the reason why we must dress in a way that is not only modest, but is a true reflection of ourselves. You are not only representing yourself, you are representing the Jewish people as a whole.
As a Jewish teen, it is difficult not to assimilate in the American idea of baring an insane amount of skin. In the parsha, the Kohane Gadol was known and respected for what he was wearing, not for what he wasn’t wearing. He was respected for what he was, and what he stood for, rather than what he wore. His tzniut was there, but no one saw that-rather, they simply saw him, in all his holiness.
I must selfishly ask you to emulate the Kohane Gadol- not in necessarily what he wore but what he represented, and what he stood for. So before you leave the house, look in the mirror, and ask yourself if you are representing yourself, and the Jewish people in a way that even the Kohane Gadol would be proud of.