Midreshet Amit


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Parshat Tetzaveh

By: Mrs. Miri Kwalwasser

Last week's Parsha, Parshat Terumah gives us a detailed description of the Mishkan, or Tabernacle, and its vessels, which the Jewish people were commanded to build in the desert. Most of our Parsha, Tetzaveh, is devoted to describing the priestly garments. Hashem begins with the command, "And you shall make the holy garments…," and thus the detailed description of the holy garments ensues. As we read through this section, we notice the multiple layers and types of garments included in the priestly attire. The High Priest wears pants, a robe, a cloak, a tunic and breastplate on top of his cloak. What can we learn from the fact that the High Priest is instructed to wear so many layers?

Most of us are familiar with the concept that the more sacred or special something is, the more hidden and covered it must be. For example, the Torah scroll, which is the holiest and most valuable item in a shul is wrapped in velvet and then placed in a case or ark which is also covered with a curtain. This is actually the sentiment behind the value of modesty. The more discreet we are about our own beauty and worth, the more sacred and dignified they remain.

Before the Torah instructs the people regarding the building and placement of the Mishkan and its vessels, Hashem commands Moshe about the priestly garments. The priests were the ones chosen to serve in the Mishkan and Holy Temple as well as to maintain it. They were, in fact the only ones permitted to enter it and the High Priest was the only one allowed to enter the Holy of Holies. It seems that the main purpose of their attire is to ensure that the priests uphold the level of holiness that is befitting for their task. Thus, we learn from the priestly garments the essential role that modesty plays in maintaining holiness.

In the beginning of Parshat Trumah, when Hashem commands us to build the Mishkan, He says "make for me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell with in them." Hashem's desire is to dwell within each and every one of us, within every Jewish home. The holiness of the Mishkan and Temple should be present and apparent in every Jewish home. It's not sufficient to merely do mitzvot. We must create an atmosphere of holiness in our hearts and homes. The message of the priestly attire is that in order to achieve true holiness, we must incorporate the attribute of modesty in the way we dress and behave. Only then, will Hashem dwell among us.