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    iPod or Ephod? – T’tzavveh

    kohen gadol high priestiPod is a modern word, but it might be thought to have a connection with “ephod”, which appears in this week’s reading as part of the regalia of the kohen gadol, worn “for glory and splendour” (Ex. 28:2).

    No-one is completely certain what the ephod was. One possibility is that it was a kind of vest. Josephus calls it a short coat with sleeves embroidered with coloured cord. Another view is that it was worn lower down the body an apron kept in place by what the Torah calls “a cunningly woven band”. It seems to have been a kind of uniform made of the same material as the curtains and veil of the sanctuary and thus identifying the high priest with his spiritual setting.

    Though the Torah ordains it as a vestment for the high priest, later books of the Tanach apply the concept to ordinary priests and even to other persons of eminence such as Samuel and David.

    The whole idea raises the much debated question of whether rabbis and other spiritual leaders ought to wear some special species of robe or frock-coat, and though the Jewish world has largely rejected the European clergy robes that used to be worn by rabbis, there is still some validity in the argument that spiritual leaders are supposed to embody a dignified tradition and it gives the tradition more respect if its representatives wear special garb.

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