The purpose of the priestly vestments was to distinguish the Kohen Gadol from the people, investing him with an aura of royalty. It is, therefore, noteworthy that one of the garments was a cloak designed with striking detail. The hem of the cloak was decorated with golden bells and pomegranates in order to herald the Kohen Gadol’s approach. The Midrash states that the Kohen Gadol’s entrance into the House of Hashem serves as a prototype for every individual as he enters the home of his friend – or even his own home. Courtesy demands that one give advance notice of his approach, not entering unexpectedly. Horav Chaim Shmuelevitz Z”l expounds upon the importance of maintaining respect, obedience and proper manners. He states that not even a worthy cause can justify disregarding the imperative of derech eretz.
The Kohen Gadol was clothed in vestments which comprised visual embodiment of the principle of derech eretz. His entrance into the Mishkan occurred only with notice, since his entrance was indicated by the bells. Had he entered without the refined trappings which exemplify derech eretz he would have been liable for the death penalty. Reb Chaim adds that one is obligated to act with derech eretz, even when he is dealing with wicked people. Thus, Yosef fled Potiphar’s house when he was accosted by Potiphar’s wife. He left her clinging to his jacket, even though she later used this jacket as evidence to incriminate him. The Ramban states that to grab the jacket away from her would have been an affront to her honor and dignity. The obligation of derech eretz knows no bounds. It must, therefore, be reflected in the total demeanor of a Ben–Torah.