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Living on the edge

Thursday, 14 February, 2019 - 4:25 am

Old-fashioned fashion doesn't turn heads (unless it's a retro-style that's now back in vogue). Almost nobody would pause long enough to consider that ancient clothing could teach them something about life.

Well, everything in the Torah is a lesson. Even a cloak. If it had no take-home message, the Torah would not have mentioned it.

What, then, could you learn from the uniforms that the kohanim used to wear in the Temple? This week's Torah portion focuses on the four garments of an ordinary kohen the eight elaborate garments of the high priest.

Big deal. I mean, you may find the blue tunic or sparkling breastplate interesting, but the real question remains: "Will knowing how long the kohen's belt was really make me a better person?"

Let's look at one item from the chief kohen's wardrobe and the real-life lesson that it shares. When the kohen gadol wore his special garments, he represented the entire Jewish people> He was not only their spokesperson to G-d, but his very clothes that represented the wide array of Jews. 

One of his garments was called the "me'il", a long blue cloak with bells and woolen pomegranates on its hem. The designs at the bottom of that cloak, millimetres off the ground, represent the Jews on the fringe- the disaffected, disenchanted and the disinterested.

We may feel tempted to write off or criticise those Jews who we feel are "empty" of Judaism. Yet, the Talmud insists that even the most "empty" Jew is full of good deeds as a pomegranate is full of seeds. The pomegranates dangling from the edge of the high priest's clothes remind us that there are no "empty" Jews- and that every Jew comes into the Holy of Holies somehow.

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