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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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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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