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    The can & the man – Tzav

    Immense detail is given by the Torah when it comes to the clothes that the Israelite priests and especially the High Priest have to wear.

    The rules governing clothing are, however, not limited to the Temple priesthood.

    We are defined as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). Every Israelite has rules about what type of clothes to wear and how to wear them.

    Scholars are told in the Talmud not to led a speck of dirt disfigure their garments. Everyone, male or female, must dress modestly.

    Yet there is a strange feature about the Hebrew words for garments. Beged, a garment, seems to be connected with the root b-g-d which means to be treacherous. Me’il, a coat, appears to be linked with m-a-l, to be unfaithful.

    The moral is that whilst we learn from the Adam and Eve story at the beginning of B’reshit that clothes are necessary for comfort, protection and modesty, the really important mark of a person is not their appearance but their inner character.

    As we know from Pir’kei Avot, Al tistakel b’kankan ella b’mah sheyesh bo, “Don’t look so much at the container but at its contents” (Avot 4:20) – or as a rhymist put it, “Look not at the can but at the man”.

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