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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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ואתה הקרב אליך את אהרן אחיך ואת בניו אתו... לכהנו לי

Now you, bring near to yourself Aharon, your brother, and his sons with him… to minister to me. (28:1)

Hashem instructs Moshe Rabbeinu to induct Aharon and his sons into the Kehunah, Priesthood, with Aharon becoming the Kohen Gadol, High Priest. At first, Moshe functioned as the Kohen Gadol, but he lost that status due to his rejection of the opportunity to lead Klal Yisrael out of Egypt. He suggested that Aharon, his older brother, become the nation’s leader. In a second exposition, Chazal (Shemos Rabbah 37:4) teach that Moshe was unhappy when Hashem instructed him to induct Aharon into the Priesthood. Hashem countered, “The Torah was mine, and I gave it to you. If not for it (the…

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ויקחו אליך שמן זית זך כתית למאור

And they shall take for you pure, pressed olive for illumination. (27:20)

The oil used for the Menorah had to be absolutely pure from the very beginning (not filtered). Therefore, the oil was made by pressing each olive gently, until only one drop of pure oil emerged. The remaining oil in the olive came out through crushing and was used for the Meal-offering. The Alter, zl, m’Kelm applies the word kassis, pressed, as a metaphor to describe the talmid chacham, Torah scholar, who “pounds” the ground, walking from place to place to study Torah wherever it is available. He quotes Chazal (Bava Basra 8a), “These are the talmidei chachamim who pound their…

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והאבנים תהיין על שמות בני ישראל שתים עשרה על שמתם

The stones shall be according to the names of Bnei Yisrael, twelve according to their names. (28:21)

The Choshen Mishpat was the Breastplate that the Kohen Gadol wore on his chest. It was a special addition to his “wardrobe”, in that the front of it contained twelve precious stones, each engraved with the name of a different Shevet, Tribe. It is most noteworthy that the stones were engraved with the names of the “children,” rather than that of the “forefathers,” the Avos, Patriarchs. Indeed, the Kedushas Levi wonders why the names of the shevatim are engraved, as opposed to the names of the Avos, in whose merit we always pray and seek salvation and atonement. Actually, the…

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ושמת את שתי האבנים על כתפת האפד אבני זכרון לבני ישראל ונשא אהרן את שמותם לפני ד' על שתי כתפיו לזכרון

You shall place the two stones on the shoulder straps of the Eiphod, remembrance stones for Bnei Yisrael; and Aharon shall carry their names before Hashem on both his shoulders as a remembrance. (28:12)

Twice remembrance. The remembrance is for Hashem – not Aharon HaKohen. Chazal say (Midrash Rabbah 38:8) that the names of the Shevatim, tribes, which are engraved upon the stones of the Eiphod, cannot be the subject of the remembrance. (They probably are not being remembered.) Remembrance is a term that applies to a subject that either is not here or is not presently visible. Since the names of the tribes are visible, the term remembrance is not applicable to them (in this context); rather, by seeing the names of the tribes, Hashem acknowledges their tzidkus, righteousness. What is their righteousness?…

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ועשית בגדי קדש לאהרן אחיך לכבוד ולתפארת

You shall make vestments of sanctity for Aharon, your brother, for glory and splendor. (28:2)

Tiferes, beauty/splendor, is a term that is most often defined subjectively. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Thus, beauty/splendor is a term that may have various meanings, dependent upon the individual’s sensitivity to – and perception of – what connotes beauty. The fact that the Torah equates the Bigdei Kehunah with kavod, glory/dignity, implies that the beauty of the Priestly vestments was not necessarily a fashion show, artistic beauty, but rather, dignified splendor, a beauty that inspires, a beauty that catalyzes thoughtfulness. When the Kohen Gadol wore his Priestly vestments, he inspired the people who viewed him as…

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ועשית בגדי קדש לאהרון אחיך לכבוד ולתפארת

You shall make vestments of sanctity for Aharon, your brother, for glory and splendor. (28:2)

The Bigdei Kehunah, Priestly vestments, were different from any other type of garment, because of their service l’kavod u’lsiferes, for honor and splendor. Furthermore, they are similar to the garments worn by the Heavenly Angels. Otzar Efraim quotes Gevuras Shimshon (cited by Horav Shlomo Levinstein, Shlita), who asserts that this is implied by Yechezkel HaNavi’s vision of Malach Michael, V’hinei ha’ish l’vush ha’badim; “And behold! The man clothed with linen” (Yechezkel 9:11). The Midrash explains that this alludes to the Bigdei Aharon HaKohen, the Priestly vestments of Aharon HaKohen, who was granted the honor of being clothed in the same…

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ואתה תצוה את בני ישראל ויקחו אליך שמן זית זך. להעלות נר תמיד

ואתה תצוה את בני ישראל ויקחו אליך שמן זית זך. להעלות נר תמיד And you shall command Bnei Yisrael that they shall take for you clear oil…to light a lamp continually

In the beginning of Parashas Beha’alosecha, Rashi asks why the command concerning the Menorah is juxtaposed on the previous parsha (Naso) which details the korbanos, offerings, brought by the Nesiim for the Chanukas HaMishkan, inauguration of the Sanctuary. Rashi comments that Aharon HaKohen was chagrined that every shevet, tribe, was represented by its Nasi, Prince, while he and his tribe, Shevet Levi, were excluded. Hashem comforted him by saying that his and his tribe’s participation in the Menorah service was greater than their sacrifices. This was not the only service performed by Aharon and his shevet. The Yom Kippur service…

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ואתה הקרב אליך את אהרן אחיך

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

Chazal (Shemos Rabbah 37:2) teach that, when Moshe Rabbeinu descended the mountain and saw the shocking revelry surrounding the Golden Calf, he also saw Aharon HaKohen pounding on the molten image with a hammer. While, veritably, Aharon was doing all that he could to delay the worship until Moshe descended, the scenario in Moshe’s first impression played itself out differently. Moshe thought (based upon his observation) that Aharon was collaborating with the people. It goes without saying that Moshe was troubled by what he saw. Thus, when Hashem instructed Moshe to “bring Aharon near,” He was intimating to him, “Moshe,…

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