This week, Parsha Tetzaveh (command) is all about the Kohanim (Priests). In fact, this is the only portion of the Torah after Parsha Shemos that does not mention the name Moses, though it is clear God is giving him instructions. For example, God describes Aaron, who is to be High Priest, as “Aaron, your brother”.
Last week, we learned about the Mishkan (Tabernacle), the place where God’s Glory was to rest. We also learned about the holy articles that would be used to worship God there – the Holy Ark, the Table for the Showbread, the Menorah and the Altar. Now, we learn about the men who are to minister to the people as they worship at the Mishkan.
Much of this week’s parsha is devoted to the commands God gives about the rituals for anointing the Kohanim. As a start to that process, God tells Moses “You shall make garments of sanctity for Aaron your brother, for glory and for splendor.” The garments are pure, white linen. Some of the High Priest’s garments are made of gold and threads of turquoise, purple and scarlet wool. In Hebrew, the “garments of sanctity” are called bigdei kodesh. Bigdei means clothing.
We usually think of kodesh as meaning “holy” or “sacred,” as in Aron Hakodesh, the Holy Ark. But kodesh can also mean “separate” – in this sense, things that are holy are separate from the rest of the world where people are usually involved in everyday pursuits like schoolwork, jobs, cleaning, shopping and watching TV. Shabbat is holy because it is separated from the work and concerns of the other days of the week – we rest and engage in spiritually uplifting activities, like attending synagogue or temple, learning Torah and paying respect to our loved ones while having fun by spending time with them.
So the beautiful clothing of the Kohanim are garments of separateness. As God has explained, these garments will be for glory and splendor.
Do you have any garments of separateness? Do you ever wear anything that sets you apart from most of the other kids? Like maybe your Scout uniform?
Yes, your uniform is similar to the clothing of the Kohanim. They wore beautiful clothes as a symbol of their service to God and the Children of Israel. Your uniform is also a symbol of service. It stands for your commitment, as expressed in the Scout Oath, “To do my duty to God and my country, to obey the Scout Law, and to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.” You have the sacred job of serving God, your country, other people, and yourself.
Maybe it’s time to throw your Scout uniform in the wash and get those spots and wrinkles out. That shirt and neckerchief tell people you are doing an important job. You don’t have to tell anyone you also have lots of fun when you’re wearing them.