Pop Quiz: Which was tallest: the aron, the shulhan or the mizbe'ah?
Rabbi Reuven Semah
"Its sound was heard when entering the Sanctuary" (Shemot 28:30)
The perashah of Tesaveh is dedicated to the subject of the holy garments of Aharon the Kohen, and the garments of the rest of the Kohanim. Aharon is called the Kohen Gadol, the Great Kohen. The Kohen Gadol wore a number of special and unusual garments. One such garment is the me'eel, the robe. This robe was made entirely of turquoise wool, called techelet. It looked like the beautiful blue sky. The Gemara says that the me'eel, besides adorning the Kohen Gadol, served as an atonement for the sin of lashon hara. The me'eel had bells on the bottom, so it made a noise when worn. Therefore, the Gemara says, "Let the garment which makes a sound serve as an atonement for the sounds (of evil gossip) that we make."
The Hafess Hayim brings other hints, based on the words of the Sages, that are learned from the me'eel. It was blue to remind us of the blue sky, which leads us to think about the Heavenly throne, and that when we speak lashon hara it is very serious because it reaches the Heavenly throne. The head opening of this robe had an edge that was folded over. It was called the "mouth of the head". It was to be (folded) within. This reminds us that our mouths should be "folded inward", not to speak when it is bad. It had an extra border woven onto the edge to remind us that we should act as if our mouths are woven closed. The opening (the mouth of the robe) should be woven like a coat of armor to teach us that when we don't respond in an argumentative situation, it is like armor for us. This is because if you don't respond, you give that person no choice but to keep quiet also. If these hints are followed, then as the pasuk above hints, our voices will be heard when we pray.
The Hatam Sofer adds one last crucial point. While humility and passiveness are admirable qualities in our worldly dealings with others, they have no place when Hashem's honor is being threatened by others. One may not remain silent in such a situation. To the contrary, he must raise his voice and allow himself to be heard "and his voice shall be heard when coming to the Holy place." Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Shmuel Choueka
One of the eight garments that the Kohen Gadol wore was the me'il - the robe which was made of totally blue wool. It also had bells attached to the bottom so that when the Kohen Gadol walked it would be heard that he was approaching. The Torah emphasizes that these sounds should be heard when he enters the Holy Chamber and this way he will merit to live. The Rabbis learn from here that although there are deep and esoteric reasons for these bells, on a simple level they are there to announce the arrival of the Kohen Gadol. We learn from here the importance of derech eress, common protocol. When we enter a room or a house, even our own, we should always knock so as not to startle others. If there are strangers inside, how much more so should we not enter without permission. Sometimes we think that since we're involved in a misvah it's OK to bypass derech eress. From the Kohen Gadol who is doing the biggest misvah we see otherwise. As the famous statement goes "Derech eress preceeds the Torah." Shabbat Shalom.
A CONSTANT REMINDER
Rabbi Yaacov Ben-Haim
And you shall make holy garments for Aharon your brother, for glory and splendor" (Shemot 28:2)
The Sefer Hahinuch (99) writes: "Among the fundamental ideas connected with this commandment is the principle we have established that man's character is affected by his conduct and thoughts. Therefore, it is proper that wherever he might look upon his body, he immediately is reminded of Him before Whom he stands. This is akin to tefillin, which all men are commanded to wear on part of their body, which are meant to be a reminder for proper thoughts...For this reason we can say that the length of the ketonet, the inner garment of the High Priest, covered his entire body, reaching a bit above his ankle...The turban was sixteen amot in length and went around his entire head, so that he would see it whenever he looked upward. The belt that he wrapped around his sides was thirty-two amot long. He would wrap it around and around himself. Because of its thickness around him, he would always feel it with his arm."
The priestly garments were primarily a uniform for the holy service. But they served a personal purpose for the High Priest as well. They constantly reminded him of G-d. Man must do whatever he can to keep the delicate threads of his soul alert, lest they atrophy. If man is not a suitable receptacle, he will be unable to receive the Divine influence G-d bestows on the world. Therefore, we must make an effort on our part and spur ourselves to reach the objectives we have set for ourselves. The steps we take below will bear fruit above. The initiative from earth will result in a response from Heaven. Shabbat Shalom.
GOT A LIGHT?
""Aharon and his sons shall arrange for the lamps to burn from evening until morning" (Shemot 27:21)
"And bring near your brother...to be Kohanim to Me" (Shemot 28:1) Aharon was commanded regarding the preparation and kindling of the Menorah even prior to his being selected as the Kohen Gadol. This would seem to indicate that Aharon's task of lighting the Menorah was exclusive of his position as Kohen Gadol. It was due to Aharon's exemplary character traits that he merited the position of lighting the Menorah, as well as being selected as Kohen Gadol. The Menorah, being the symbol of the light of Torah which spreads throughout the world, can teach us certain basic formulas for the proper approach to teaching Torah. The Talmud states that the misvah of lighting the Menorah is such that one must kindle the light until the flame goes up by itself. We may infer from this halachah that when one imparts Torah knowledge to his child or his student, he must adequately prepare him so that the student will eventually have the ability to study Torah on his own. The mentor should be vigilant that the student does not just parrot the lesson, but rather that he should have an in-depth understanding of what has been taught.
The Torah states that the oil used for the Menorah must be "pure olive oil." We note from this halachah that an educator should properly prepare his lesson so that when it is presented in the classroom, there will not be any contradictions raised by students. The lesson should be clear and lucid, properly outlined and defined, so that there will remain no doubts in the minds of the students. Another lesson can be gleaned from the fact that the same amount of oil was used for the lamps, regardless of the time of year. Whether the days were long or short, the Torah commands that the oil be uniform. This indicates that the efforts that are utilized and applied in the teaching of a superior and gifted child should likewise be applied to the weaker child. Often, teachers will give up on the poor student because he lacks the ability to succeed, or, on the other hand, they will not concern themselves properly with the superior student because they think that there is little need for much attention. These attitudes and sentiments are both wrong, since one must realize that all students should be handled with the same devotion and supervision.
These are but a few of the valuable lessons learned from the guidelines for lighting the Menorah. It is through their application that we can be sure to provide for our children a meaningful and lasting education. (Peninim on the Torah)
Answer to Pop Quiz: The mizbe'ah was 3 cubits high, while the aron and shulhan were each one and a half cubits high.
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