Enclothed in Dignity

Adar (1) 10, 5782
February 11, 2022
Candlelighting Time 5:13 PM

            The priests had to wear special garments when they served in the Mishkan and later in the Beis Hamikdash. The Torah quantifies this obligation stating that it enhanced the honor and majesty of the priests. We know that what really counts is not necessarily how a person dresses, but rather his inner being, his essence. Why was it so important that the priests dressed in a certain manner? Shaloh explains that in order for the Divine Presence to reside in the Mishkan, we had to invite it into our midst. Our degree of ‘attachment’ to Hashem created a bond that connected us to Hashem in such a manner that Hashem ‘chose’ to place His Presence in the Mishkan. How did the special garments accomplish that goal?

            Nachmonides explains in great detail the prominence of the garments worn by the High Priest. He was adorned in a royal manner akin to the manner of dress that kings and people of royalty would present themselves. Netziv in this vein elaborates that Ahron, the High Priest, was on a level far surpassing that of the nation and conducted himself in such a pious manner as to be distinct as a personage of extremely high standards. In order that the people would realize his status and award him extreme respect according to his stature, it was necessary that his manner of dress reflect his majestic nature and exemplary conduct. To dispel the notion that Ahron’s conduct bordered on vanity, the Torah clearly states that his clothing was for his dignity and illustriousness. As a result, the nation realized that Hashem commanded how he adorned himself because he had been chosen by Hashem and was prominent in His estimation. Therefore, Hashem would select to reside with us within the confines of the Mishkan since Ahron in his capacity as High Priest elevated the level of the nation with his service to Hashem.

            However, the eminence of this matter actually is much deeper and profound than just the manner of dress of the High Priest. Nachmonides also explains that the very essence of the garments when they were sewn and woven were done on a spiritual level of perfection where every stitch and minute part of the garment were accomplished with implanted thoughts of sacredness and elevation of the materials to a higher plateau of reality. K’sav and Kabalah takes this thought to another level where the workers actually made the garments with their particular owners in mind. In other words, it wasn’t just a general upgrade of the many materials that were used, rather each stitch was performed with tremendous focus on the specific individual that would don that garment and utilize it for his exclusive service and role in the Mishkan.

            Malbim expounds upon this theme adding that the inner essence of each individual who wore these garments was impacted and elevated due to the unique and fundamental core of the clothing that he wore. The elevated spirit of the priests in general and that of the High Priest specifically so enhanced and augmented the level of the nation, that they were ready and primed to receive Hashem into their midst.


The me’el, one of the garments worn by the High Priest had its collar folded in. This was a message that we need to be careful how we speak and keep certain things inside and not verbalize them.