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RABBI CHAIM LOBEL הרב חיים לובל

This week is Parshat Tezaveh
Candle Lighting Friday 2/11/11 5:07 PM NYC EST
Rabbi Chaim Lobel – Young Israel of Aberdeen, NJ
www.yiaberdeen.com



 

 

Control and Justice - In Memoriam of Mr. David M. Warren (Menachem Dovid ben Harav Yosef Z’L)

The High Priest (Kohen Gadol) wore eight pieces of clothing during his service, including a breastplate called the Choshen Mishpat. Worn over his tunic, the breastplate featured a square double pane of gold. The outer pane had twelve slots in rows of four across and three down. Each slot had an exotic stone unique to one of the twelve tribes whose name was engraved upon it.  The tribes were ordered from right to left by order of birth. Between the two golden panes were placed “the Urim and Tumim.” (Exodus 28: 15 -30) 

According to Nahmanides (Exodus 28 – 30; Gerona, Spain 1194 -1270), the Urim was a parchment that had G-d’s ineffable name. “Urim” derives from “Or”, meaning light. “Tumim” comes from “Tamim” – pure or complete. When the High Priest presented a question to G-d, the Urim would cause the letters on the stones to glow, giving G-d’s answer.  

According to the Kli Yakar (Exodus 28:16 – 17; Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim Luntschitz, Prague 1550 – 1619), Aaron was appointed the High Priest and privileged to wear the breastplate because he possessed the characteristics of a proper judge. Just as the breastplate conveyed G-d’s judgment, so must the person wearing the breastplate be qualified to pass judgment. 

What were Aaron’s special traits? The Kli Yakar cites the Talmud (Sabbath 139a): When Moses, Aaron’s younger brother, was appointed leader of the Jewish people, Aaron was truly happy without any resentment that he was passed over. Aaron’s humility qualified him for the honor of bearing G-d’s judgment, the Choshen Mishpat. 

Why was humility the critical characteristic? The opposite of humility is arrogance. An arrogant person seeks to impose his will and control others. The Kli Yakar explains (Exodus 21:1), an arrogant person is often quick to draw conclusions because he doesn’t want to create the appearance of indecision or loss of control. Indecision and contemplation to an arrogant person is a sign of weakness.  

A modest person does just the opposite. A modest person prefers to investigate and consider than rush to judgment. A modest person seeks only to perform G-d’s will, not his own. A modest person does not seek any undeserved benefit, not even a purely emotional benefit. Only such a person could ever truly qualify to judge others and thereby merit wearing the Choshen Mishpat. 

The High Priest’s breastplate, the Choshen Mishpat, was a direct vehicle the Jewish people had for asking questions to G-d, to seek His judgment. Only someone who was truly humble, whose sole desire was to serve Hashem and pursue righteousness, only such a person was qualified to wear the Choshen Mishpat. In other words, only someone who shared Aaron’s humility was qualified to transmit G-d’s judgments.

Shabbat Shalom


 
   
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