Musings of an Orthodox Jew

Thoughts on Torah and the Jewish world today.

Parshas Tetzaveh 5769 – Pomegranates, bells and speech…

This weeks parshah reviews some of the kelim and then the begadim of the Kohanim- prior to telling Moshe how he was going to inaugurate Aharon and his sons.   One of the garments that the Kohen Gadol wore was the “Robe of the Ephod”.  This was a blue robe- made entirely of techeiles with woven pomegranates alternating with golden bells (the opinion of Rashi- Ramban states that the bells were inside the pomegrantes).

Now theres an interesting concept brought here- that the bells served to announce the Kohen Gadol as he entered the Kodesh haKodashim- as a herald announces those who apear before a king- that the announcement of these bells caused the angels that attended G-d to remove themselves, and that without these bells, they would have slain the Kohen gadol for coming into the Kodesh HaKodashim.  Simlarly, as he left, the bells announced that fact and the attendant angels returned to their place before G-d.  Thus these bells served to preserve the life of the Kohen Gadol

In the Midrash d’Rabbi Alshich, he remarks on the sins that each of the various garments atoned for.  What sin did the Robe of the Ehopd atone for?  That of Lashon HaRa.  He remarks that the souns of the bells as the Kohen gadol moved, their “sounding off”, is as the “sounding off” of people engaged in gossip.  Rambam sees the misuse of speech as a major issue, the Chofetz Chaim in his work Shmiras halashon goes into the seriousness of lashon ha’ra and how it should be avoided at all costs.  Think of it- it is said thtat when two people talk Torah together, the angels come and listen- yet when speech is misused it can cause a person “to go white”- to be as if they had died from embarresment, or destroy reputations and livelihoods.  Speech can be the most constructive and educational of forces- but at the other extreme the most destructive of forces.  The ephod was an outer garment, all in the techeiles which represents Oland haBa, and the holiness connected to it, a reminder to the person enveloped within.

How can we combine these ideas?  Perhaps in the holiness of speech we can see the protection of the Kohen Gadol- just as holy speech elevates us, brings the angels to hear us, thus the reminder of that holy speechthat elevates and protects us from the virtues attached to it.  The clappers within the bells are reminders of the tongue- but here the clappers are made of gold, the shell is made of gold.  The sound is not the oudest or hardest of bells- but is softer.  Thus the sound, while reminders of speech- are reminders of holy speech- the blue of the robe a reminder to elevate out speech- that our tongues should be like the clappers; gold and producing words of value.


March 4, 2009 - Posted by | Parshah, Torah | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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