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ונשא אהרן את משפט בני ישראל על לבו לפני ד' תמיד

Aharon shall bear the judgment of Bnei Yisrael on his heart before Hashem, constantly. (28:30)

The Kohen Gadol’s spiritual eminence notwithstanding, his responsibility to the congregation remains paramount. He may never act in an aloof manner towards the people. They must always be “carried” on his heart, as he empathizes with their agonies and celebrates with each and every one of them during their ecstasies. The Kotzker Rebbe, zl, explains the prohibition for the Kohen Gadol to defile himself spiritually to (even) his seven close relatives (unlike the ordinary Kohen who may do so to his father, mother, wife, brother, sister, son, daughter). The Kohen Gadol must carry all Jews equally on his shoulders. His…

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ונתת אל חשן המשפט את האורים ואת התמים

Into the Choshen HaMishpat, shall you place the Urim and Tumim. (28:30)

Rashi explains: “The Shem HaMeforash (Hashem’s 42 or 72 letter Name) was placed inside the folds of the Choshen, where, by means of the Urim and Tumim, the Choshen would illuminate its words and bring perfection to its words.” [Urim literally means “lights”; Tumim means “perfection.”] While the illumination is understandable, what does Rashi mean that the Tumim brought perfection to its words? Horav Moshe Shternbuch, Shlita, explains that in order for one to present a query to the Urim V’Tumim successfully, the questioner must believe unequivocally that the answer which he will receive is emes l’amito, absolute, unimpeachable truth….

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ועשית בגדי קדש לאהרן אחיך לכבוד ולתפארת

And you shall make holy vestments for Aharon, your brother, for honor and for glory. (28:2)

The Kohen Gadol’s vestments were unique in that they atoned for various communal sins. The Talmud (Zevachim 88b) teaches that: the Robe worn by the High Priest atoned for bloodshed; the Breeches atoned for lewdness, the Turban atoned for arrogance; the Belt atoned for impure meditations of the heart; the Breastplate atoned for neglect of civil laws; the Apron atoned for idolatry; the Cloak atoned for slander; and the Crown worn on the forehead atoned for brazenness. In other words, when the Kohen Gadol walked, he was a walking source of absolution. Apparently, when the Kohen wore his vestments, which…

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ואתה תצוה את בני ישראל

Now you shall command Bnei Yisrael. (27:20)

The Baal HaTurim cites the Zohar HaKadosh who observes that the Torah does not mention Moshe Rabbeinu’s name in this parsha. Indeed, from Moshe’s birth in Sefer Shemos, no other parsha excludes the name of our quintessential leader and Rabban Shel Kol Yisrael. The absence of Moshe’s name in this parsha is due to his reaction to Hashem’s desire to enact the ultimate punishment against the Jewish People. Their initiation of – and participation in – erecting the Golden Calf was a spiritual descent that rendered them undeserving of the privilege of being Hashem’s chosen people. Moshe responded, “If you…

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והיה על מצח אהרן... והיה על מצחו תמיד לרצון להם לפני ד'

It shall be on Aharon’s forehead… and it shall be on his forehead always, to bring them favor before Hashem. (28:38)

The Tzitz, Head-Plate, was a unique addition to the Kohen Gadol’s vestments. When the Kohen Gadol wore it, the two words that were engraved on it: Kodesh l’Hashem, Holy to Hashem, served to gain Heavenly favor for blood or sacrificial body parts that were offered on the Mizbayach, Altar, while in a state of tumah, ritual contamination, allowing them to be accepted by Hashem. Tzitz meratzeh: the Tzitz caused ineligible offerings to become accepted. Whether this was only when Aharon/Kohen Gadol wore it on his forehead is the subject of a debate in the Talmud (Yoma 7b). One Tanna takes…

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ולקחת את שתי אבני שהם ופתחת עליהם שמות בני ישראל

You should take the two Shoham stones and engrave on them the names of Bnei Yisrael. (28:9)

Chazal (Sotah 36b) teach that when Yosef HaTzaddik almost fell prey to the blandishments of Potifar’s wife, an image of Yaakov Avinu, his father, appeared before him and said, “Yosef, your brothers’ names will eventually be engraved upon the stones of the Ephod, and your name (as of now) is destined to be included among them. Do you want your name to be omitted (if you sin)?” When Yosef heard this, he immediately withdrew. Potifar’s wife was not going to cause him to be deprived of his spiritual destiny. So much for Yosef. What about Reuven and Yehudah? It is…

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ואתה הקרב אליך את אהרון אחיך

Now you, bring near to yourself Aharon, your brother. (28:1)

Horav Naftali, zl, m’Ropshitz, interprets the pasuk instructing Moshe Rabbeinu to bring Aharon HaKohen closer as an admonishment to our quintessential leader to take a lesson from Aharon’s approach to relationships with people. Moshe was prone to isolating himself from people. He never knew when Hashem would call on him; thus, he was always prepared. His tent was outside the camp. While he was always available when someone called, he was not as accessible as Aharon HaKohen, who was known for his outreach in loving and pursuing peace. As the great conciliator, he was always in the “trenches” with people….

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ואתה תצוה את בני ישראל

Now you shall command Bnei Yisrael. (27:20)

Not Moshe, just, V’atah, “Now you.” Indeed, the Torah does not mention Moshe Rabbeinu’s name in this parsha. This is by design, because, in his defense of Klal Yisrael, following the sin of the Golden Calf, Moshe pleaded that they be forgiven. If not – m’cheini na mi’Sifrecha asher Kasavta, “Erase me from Your Book that You have written” (Shemos 32:32). When a tzaddik issues forth a declaration it is not ignored. Thus, one parsha, the one which usually is read around the seventh of Adar, which is Moshe’s yahrzeit, is missing his name. From the time that the Torah…

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והיו על אהרן ועל בניו בבואם אל אהל מועד... ולא ישאו עון ומתו

They shall be on Aharon and on his sons when they enter the Ohel Moed… and they shall not bear a sin and die. (28:33)

The Torah emphasizes the significance of the Bigdei Kehunah, Priestly vestments, more so than any of the vessels of the Mishkan. The requirement to wear the Begadim, vestments, is such that, if any performance of the Priestly service is without the full complement of the vestments, the offending Kohen is subject to Heavenly death penalty. What more did these garments add to the Kohen’s already exalted state of sanctity, so that without them his service would be considered to be defective? Horav Mordechai Gifter, zl, explains that character traits and abilities are of little to no consequence if one does…

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ועשית את מעיל האפוד כליל תכלת

And you shall make the M’eil of the Eiphod entirely of turquoise wool. (28:31)

Chazal (Zevachim 88b) teach that the Me’il was mechaper, atoned, for the sin of lashon hora. Yavo davar she’b’kol v’yechaper al kol ha’ra, “Let something that emits sound (through the ringing of the bell on its hem) come and atone for the sound of hurtful speech.” [The wearing of Bigdei Kehunah effects atonement only in conjunction with the actual repentance rendered by the specific sinner. Furthermore (Maharal), when the Kohen wears the vestments l’kavod u’liferes, “For glory and splendor” (Shemos 28:2), they introduce a sense of loftiness in Klal Yisrael which counteracts the degradation that results from sin.] Horav Reuven…

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