The Relationship between Clothing and a Person’s Inner Reality

The Relationship between Clothing and a Person_s Inner Reality

Viewing the clothing of the Kohanim as paradigms for what one is to wear while serving the Creator.

In R. S. Tzvi Tal’s 2007 essay for Parashat Tetzave, “The Jewish Dress Code for Prayer” on behalf of the Bar Ilan Parashat HaShavua series, noting that a significant portion of the Parasha concerns the fabrication of the special clothing to be worn by the Tabernacle priests while they are conducting the Divine Service (Shemot 28:1-43; 29:5-9), suggests not only the overall purpose served by clothing in general, and these articles of clothing in particular, but also an association between the clothing of the Kohanim and what is worn during times of private and communal prayer.

R. Tal makes a series of contentions regarding clothing:

The Tora and the Sages viewed these garments as more than simply a covering; they were not only concealing but also revealing – a) revealing the inner content of the person and b) the status of the priest as he was ministering in the Lord’s Sanctuary…

The relationship between a person and his clothing can also be seen as c) paralleling the relationship between body and soul, d) between outer envelopment and inner content; hence the importance of garments in general, and when standing before the Lord in particular…

Continue reading

Advertisements

Why Does the Description of the Golden Altar Appear in Parashat Tetzave?

Why Does the Description of the Golden Alter Appear in Parashat Tetzave

A classical question regarding the placement in the bible of the Mizbeach HaZahav.

In R. Amnon Bazak’s second essay for Parashat Tetzave, “Mikoma Shel Parashat Mizbeach HaKetoret” (Nekudat Peticha: Iyunim Ketzarim BePeshuta Shel Parashat HaShavua, Machon Tzomet, Alon Shevut, 5766, pp. 91-2) poses the obvious question concerning the place in the Tora where the description of the Golden Altar appears. The holy vessel which was to be placed in the Heichal, alongside the Menora and the Shulchan, is fully described in Shemot 30:1-10:

1 And thou shalt make an Altar to burn incense upon; of acacia-wood shalt thou make it. 2 A cubit shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof; foursquare shall it be; and two cubits shall be the height thereof; the horns thereof shall be of one piece with it. 3 And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, the top thereof, and the sides thereof round about, and the horns thereof; and thou shalt make unto it a crown of gold round about. 4 And two golden rings shalt thou make for it under the crown thereof, upon the two ribs thereof, upon the two sides of it shalt thou make them; and they shall be for places for staves wherewith to bear it. 5 And thou shalt make the staves of acacia-wood, and overlay them with gold. 6 And thou shalt put it before the veil that is by the Ark of the Testimony, before the Ark-cover that is over the Testimony, where I will Meet with thee. 7 And Aharon shall burn thereon incense of sweet spices; every morning, when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn it. 8 And when Aharon lighteth the lamps at dusk, he shall burn it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations. 9 Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt-offering, nor meal-offering; and ye shall pour no drink-offering thereon. 10 And Aharon shall make atonement upon the horns of it once in the year; with the blood of the sin-offering of atonement once in the year shall he make atonement for it throughout your generations; it is most holy unto the LORD.

Continue reading

Atoning for Improper Thoughts

Atoning for Improper Thoughts

Looking to resolve a difference in opinion between the Talmud and Midrash.

In a 1993 Sicha for Parashat Tetzave, “Thoughts of the Heart”, R. Aharon Lichtenstein suggests a number of possibilities for the ambiguous statements in a section of the Talmud and Midrash respectively.

Under the general rubric of explaining the textual link between the special clothing to be worn by the Priests (Shemot 28:2-43) when engaged in Divine Service in the Tabernacle, and the sacrifices to be offered within (Ibid. 29:1-46), the Talmud states:

Zevachim 88b

R. Inyani b. Sason also said: Why are the sections on sacrifices and the priestly vestments close together?

To teach you: as sacrifices make atonement, so do the priestly vestments make atonement.

Continue reading

The Importance of “Making” the Mishkan

The Importance of “Making” the Mishkan

An economics experiment that indicates that active creation is more valued than passive receiving.

In R. Jonathan Sacks latest internet Devar Tora for Parashat Teruma, “Why We Value What We Make”, he begins by referencing an experiment conducted by Dan Ariely, the behavioral economist (summarized in his 2011 book, The Upside of Irrationality). Participants were first required to make an origami shape. Then they were asked how much they would pay to purchase what they had made. As part of the same experiment, others were asked how much would they pay to buy someone else’s origami creation. Ariely found that people were prepared to pay five times as much (!) for what they themselves had made, as opposed to the amount they were prepared to offer for someone else’s creation. Ariely concluded:

The effort that we put into something does not just change the object. It changes us, and the way we evaluate that object. And the greater the labor, the greater the love for what we have made.

Continue reading

Preparing for Marriage by Beginning to Study Talmud

Preparing for Marriage by Beginning to Study Talmud

A lesson learned during one’s formative studies in Yeshiva that informed a successful marriage relationship.

In an FB posting today, Sivan Rahav-Meir quoted from an essay by R. Benjamin Blech on the occasion of his and his wife Eileen’s 60th wedding anniversary.  Responding to requests from well-wishers to disclose to them his “secret” for a wonderful marriage, he recalls the first time he studied Talmud as a young boy. His first Gemora experience involved studying the chapter known as “Shnayim Ochzim” (lit. two are holding; based upon the first words in the chapter), one of the standard topics presented to young students:

Bava Metzia 2a (Mishna 1:1)

Two (persons appearing before a court) hold a garment. One of them says: I found it, and the other says: I found it. One of them says: It is all mine, and the other says: It is all mine. Then the one shall swear that his share in it is not less than half, and the other shall swear that his share in it is not less than half, and (the value of the garment) shall then be divided between them…

Continue reading

Bringing Oneself to Parting with That which One Desires for Himself

Bringing Oneself to Parting with That which One Desires for Himself

A question inspired by the high quality of the raw materials required for building the Tabernacle.

In Boaz Spiegel’s essay for Parashat Teruma, “’God Requires the Heart’: On Contributions from the Heart—‘Yidvenu Libo’” on behalf of Bar Ilan’s Parashat HaShavua program, he begins by posing a fundamental question: The materials that were required for constructing the Mishkan included much that was rare and precious:

Shemot 25:3-7

3 And this is the offering which ye shall take of them: gold, and silver, and brass; 4 And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair; 5 And rams’ skins dyed red, and sealskins, and acacia-wood; 6 Oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense; 7 Onyx stones, and stones to be set, for the Ephod, and for the Breastplate.

Continue reading

Two Dimensions of the Religious Experience

Two Dimensions of the Religious Experience

Two perspectives concerning the need to build the Mishkan.

In R. Oren Duvdevani’s 2009 essay for Parashat Teruma “From Crisis to Tabernacle: The Tabernacle in Rabbi Soloveitchik’s World”, he notes a dispute between RaMBaN and RaShI regarding the purpose of the creation of the Mishkan in the midst of the Jewish encampment.

RaMBaN understands the Mishkan as a means of continuing the Har Sinai Revelation of the Tora to the Jewish people, in effect a continuation of Parashat Yitro:

RaMBaN on Shemot 15:2

The secret of the Tabernacle is that the Glory that Dwelt over Mount Sinai would dwell over it covertly.  As was said (Ibid. 24:16): “The Presence of the Lord Abode on Mount Sinai,” and also (Devarim 5:21): “The Lord our God has just Shown us His Majestic Presence.”  Likewise, with respect to the Tabernacle it says: (Shemot 40:34 and 35) “…the Presence of the Lord Filled the Tabernacle.” …     When Moshe entered, he would hear the Voice that Communicated with him on Mount Sinai.   Just as it is said with respect to the giving of the Torah: (Devarim 4:36) “From the heavens He Let you hear His Voice to discipline you” … so, too, with regard to the Tabernacle, it said: (BeMidbar 7:89), “…he would hear the Voice Addressing him from above the cover that was on top of the Ark of the Pact between the two Cheruvim” …

Continue reading

Two “Covers” and Two Purposes for the Mishkan

Two covers and Two Purposes

The inner portion of the Mishkan’s two coverings.

In R. Amnon Bazak’s second essay for Parashat Teruma, “Eidut VeHitva’adut” (Nekudat Peticha: Iyunim Ketzarim BePeshuta Shel Parashat HaShavua, Machon Tzomet, Alon Shevut, 5766, pp. 86-7), he points out that there were two coverings for the interior structure, containing the Mizbe’ach HaZahav, Shulchan and Menora in the outer portion, and the Aron within the inner sanctum.

R. Bazak cites RaShI as taking note of these two coverings as well as the specific names that each of them is given:

Continue reading

Symbolizing the Tora’s Pertinence to One and All

Symbolizing the Toras Pertinence to One and All

A close reading of the biblical text results in recognizing an inconsistency in the terminology for the construction of the Mishkan and its contents.

In a Sicha for Parashat Teruma delivered in 1998, entitled “Keter Tora”,  R. Aharon Lichtenstein begins his remarks by pointing out an inconsistency with regard to the declension of the relevant verbs introducing the construction of the Aron as opposed to the rest of the Mishkan:

Shemot 25

10 VeAsu” And they shall make an ark

23VeAsita”And thou shalt make a table …

31VeAsita” And thou shalt make a candelabrum …

Ibid. 26

1 “T’aseh” the (outer structure of the) tabernacle thou shalt make …

Ibid. 27

1VeAsita” And thou shalt make the (outer, copper) altar…

Ibid. 30

1VeAsita” And thou shalt make an (inner, golden) altar to burn incense upon…

Continue reading

By Recognizing their Limitations, Judges are Expected to Compensate for Them

By Recognizing their Limitations, Judges are Expected to Compensate for Them

Defining how one “keeps away from a false matter” as part of a judicial proceeding.

In Elishai Ben-Yitzchak’s 2016 essay for Parashat Mishpatim, “On Judges Keeping an Open Mind” on behalf of Bar Ilan’s Parashat HaShavua series, he references a series of Rabbinic interpretations for a particular verse in this week’s Parasha:

Shemot 23:7

Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not; for I will not Justify the wicked.

(Although the phrase “slay thou not” when taken figuratively, could apply to any form of character assassination, a literal rendition understands this entire verse to be directed at a judge in a capital trial. Such an interpretation is similarly apparent from the syntactical context of the verses immediately preceding and succeeding this one:

Ibid. 6, 8

6 Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause.   

8 And thou shalt take no gift [bribe]; for a gift blindeth them that have sight, and perverteth the words of the righteous.

It is the pertinence of this idea for trial judges that Bar-Yitzchak is interested in.)

Continue reading