The Majestic Garments of the Kohen Gadol and Feasting on Purim

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By Rabbi Naftoly Bier, Rosh Kollel


The Torah commands, “(Shemos 28:2) Make holy garments for your brother Aharon, for glory and majesty.”

Why is it important that Aharon who is a spiritual giant, a person of saintliness, needs to wear majestic, royal garments? In what manner does it add to his selfless service to Hashem and the Jewish people?

The Chinuch explains that the wearing of these unique garments was a natural means of ensuring that the Kohen, priest, has a proper state of mind during his service in Hashem’s abode, temple. A person is influenced by one’s deeds, his actions shape his thoughts and state of mind. The emissary who intervenes with Hashem on behalf of his people must concentrate and focus only on his mission. By wearing special clothing, it will arouse him to be acutely aware of his standing in front of Hashem. It is comparable to wearing תפילין , tefillin, that serves amongst many reasons, to focus properly.

Additionally, the special clothing and the beauty of our sanctuaries will affect others to atone for their sins and to return to Hashem; they being influenced by their ornate garments which convey the magnitude of serving Hashem.

The physical mundane aspect of our world is a unique gift, enabling one to be constantly aware of Hashem’s benefaction (beauty, nature, health, etc.) thereby ensuring that the epicenter of life is asking what is Hashem’s will?

On Purim, the day that we can attain an attachment to Hashem’s interminable love for us; we are instructed to have a merry feast, including meat and wine (or grape juice). This obligation is according to most incumbent on women also. Again, we are puzzled! Why don’t we spend the whole day in prayer, study, relating all to the miracles of Purim with depth and clarity?

In משלי , Proverbs 9:1-2 it states, “With wisdom she built her home, she has hewn seven pillars. She prepared a feast, mixed the wine and set the table.”

The Medrash says that is a parable. Hashem created the world in seven days, created the land and the bodies of water and vegetation.

Why is a grand feast the metaphor for creation? A phenomenon that exists is that parents will make a lavish feast for their child’s wedding. Human nature is that when one is ecstatic, one wants to share one’s euphoria with others. How? By giving of their “largesse” to others- (“ביום טובה היה בטוב” (קהלת ז‘ י“ד Hashem who had the “supreme exhilaration” of “giving” to His creation is analogous to one who invites others to a feast of joy.

On Purim when we are celebrating Hashem’s love for us, we express our intense appreciation by elevating our spirits, acknowledging with acuity, the gifts of life we are given; henceforth partaking in the most delicious, “uplifting” foods – meat and wine. Used properly, it is a segue to truly connect to Hashem with intense emotion.

Another example of how our relationship with the physical world impacts on our relationship with Hashem is the first משנה in Tractate Megillah. The mitzvah of reading the Scroll of Esther can be done on the 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, or 15th of Adar. The usual rule is the 14th for unwalled cities and the 15th for walled cities. The 11th, 12th, and 13th were exceptions for the farmers who came Monday and Thursday to the cities for “market day”. In order that they shouldn’t have to once again make a journey to hear the Megillah, Chazal created a dispensation for them. To show our appreciation for the whole year (Rashi), enabling us to have food and water. Aren’t they doing it for a selfish reason; they need to earn a living? What do we, the city inhabitants, owe them? The answer is appreciation! Isn’t a heartfelt thank you each time they come sufficient?

HaRav Yerucham Levovitz זצ“ל taught that one can truly ascertain another’s true appreciation by observing if the recipient will initiate an action as a consequence of their being a recipient. Some will say they owe it to me, or they did it for their own good, or I said thank you! But real appreciation is when one expends time and effort to truly convey one’s thanks.

The grave and importance is demonstrated in Ethics of the Fathers 6, 6. “Wherever something is said in the name of its original source- giving credit where its due, causes גאולה, salvation to the world.” This idea is derived from when Mordechai told Esther of the plan to poison the king; despite being urged by Mordechai to take credit for it, she gave credit to Mordechai. King Ahasuerus had this noble deed inscribed in his book of chronicles and years later it was the cause of Mordechai being saved from the clutches of Haman and in turn brought about the demise of Haman and the abolishing of his plan to exterminate the Jewish Nation.

Wasn’t Esther putting Mordechai’s life in jeopardy if the plot isn’t proven? The answer given is that we are being taught that an immutable law of Hashem’s world is that when absolute selfless recognition is given to someone only positive results are expected! From this, we discern the enormous magnitude of appreciation!

To truly appreciate Hashem’s eternal beneficence is only possible if we have the same for all humans. We are one person; the physical world, the human society are constant educators how to relate to Hashem’s gifts and to appreciate His love for us.


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