(28, Apr, 2017)
Friday 2 Iyyar 5777, 

Tetzaveh

Ephod, Breastplate & Robe - Three Unique Vestments




From: Chabad.AM Editorial Staff    
2006-03-10 02:11:38




In the Torah portion of Tetzaveh the priestly vestments are described at length. Among the garments worn by the High Priest were the ephod, the breastplate, and the me’il, the robe. After the commands concerning the making of each, the verse tells us what purpose each served: 

With regard to the ephod the verse states: "Place the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as remembrance stones for the children of Israel; Aharon shall carry their names on his two shoulders before G-d as a remembrance."


At the conclusion of the command of the breastplate the verse states: "Aharon will thus carry the names of the children of Israel on the decision breastplate over his heart when he enters the Sanctuary; it shall be a constant remembrance before G-d."


Concerning the robe the verse states: "Aharon shall wear it when he performs the service; the sound [of the bells] shall be heard when he enters the Sanctuary before G-d, and when he leaves...."


Thus, each vestment accomplished its purpose - remembrance, etc. - by the very fact that Aharon entered the Sanctuary while wearing it. This was not the case with the other vestments worn while performing the service - they accomplished nothing in and of themselves.


When the High Priest entered the Sanctuary garbed in the eight vestments and performed the divine service, two things were thus accomplished: The entry itself accomplished remembrance, etc., by his being garbed in the three special vestments. Then there was that which was accomplished through his actual service, this being dependent on his wearing all his vestments.


The High Priest served as an emissary of the Jewish people. His task was to unite the Jews with G-d. Thus, the High Priest’s entry and service correspond to accomplishments of the Jewish people.


A Jew’s unification with G-d is twofold: a) through his service of Torah and mitzvos; b) as a result of his intrinsic relationship, for he is considered G-d’s child or servant even prior to his service.


These two things are alluded to in the High Priest’s service: First comes his entry into the Sanctuary, indicative of the Jews’ remembrance before G-d (independent of their service). Only then begins the service of the High Priest, symbolic of the spiritual service of each and every Jew.


The reason why the entry of the High Priest was connected to the three abovementioned garments will be understood accordingly, for these garments hint at the various categories of Jews:


The gemstones on the shoulder straps of the ephod and in the breastplate were inscribed with the names of the Tribes of Israel - the Jewish people. This refers to the loftier kind of Jew, within whom may be found the "revealed and inscribed" Judaism.


The robe, on the other hand, descending as it did close to the ground, alludes to a less lofty category of Jew. The fringe of the robe featured bells and pomegranates, for "Even the ’emptiest’ Jew is as full of mitzvos as a pomegranate [is full of seeds]."


The "remembrance before G-d" was accomplished by the High Priest’s entry wearing all three vestments; should even one category of Jew be missing, the priest’s action lacks significance. For the unity of the Jews with G-d defies division - it encompasses all Jews equally.

Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. XXI, pp. 185-188.
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