Shabbat we read from two Torah scrolls. In the first we
read the portion of Tetzaveh which discusses at great
length the special clothing that the Kohanim wore in the
The garments were of such importance that if any garment
was lacking, the
service was invalid. As every aspect of the
service is a lesson to each of us, we will discuss some
lessons to be learned from the garments.
first garment mentioned is the Ephod, which was an
elaborate garment that rested upon the Kohen Gadol’s
shoulders. Upon the shoulders were two gemstones that
were engraved with the names of the twelve tribes of
This teaches us that at all times we have upon our
shoulders not only ourselves, but also the entire Jewish
people. This is true both in our relation with Hashem
and with the rest of the world. Maimonides teaches that
a person should always view the world as an equal scale.
One good act can tip the scale and bring the entire
world into favor in Hashem’s eyes. Similarly, the rest
of the world looks at us as one people. Our acts, for
the good and the bad, reflect upon the entire Jewish
people. Thus, each of us carries the entire twelve
tribes upon our shoulders.
Twelve tribes were also inscribed on the Choshen Mishpat,
the Breastplate. The Choshen Mishpat had twelve
different gemstones, upon each of which was inscribed
the name of one of the tribes. The inscription of the
twelve tribes on the breastplate teaches that we must
always have the entire Jewish people upon our heart.
When we pray, we pray for everyone, when we make a
decision, we concern ourselves with everyone. The Arizal
teaches that every morning, before our prayers, we
should say Hareini Mekabail Alai Mitzvat Asei Shel
V’ahavta L’rayacha Kamocha (I hereby accept upon myself
the Mitzvah of loving my neighbor as myself). By doing
so, Hashem accepts our prayers.
Talmud teaches that the names Avraham, Yitzchak, and
Yaakov and the words Shivtei Y-h (The tribes of Hashem)
were also inscribed upon the stones. One of the reasons
was that it was necessary that all of the Hebrew letters
be on the Breastplate. When a question of great
importance needed to be asked of Hashem, the Kohen Gadol
would look at the breastplate and prophetically see the
answer spelled out in the letters.
there were only twelve stones, the names of the
Patriarchs had to be engraved on the stones together
with the tribes. The Baal Haturim explains that the
names of the Patriarchs and the words Shivtei Y-h were
spread out over all of the stones. The immediate
question arises, why? Couldn’t Avraham have his own
engraving of the Patriarchs on the stones of the tribes
teaches us how we must view our bond with our
forefathers and with our heritage. Were the forefathers
to be on their own stones, and the tribes on theirs, it
would imply that we are detached from our heritage. The
forefathers were carved into our stones, to teach that
our heritage must be inseparably engraved within us.
Kohen Gadol wore the Tzitz, a golden plate across his
forehead which was inscribed Holy to Hashem.
Interestingly, the engraving was done in a way that the
letters protruded. This was to teach us that we must not
be ashamed of our Judaism, and on the contrary our
sanctity must extend to all around us.
word Tzitz comes from the Hebrew Maytzitz, which means
gazing. This is because we should constantly think about
being holy to Hashem. It is also the numerical value of
Keitz, which means the end of days (the time of
Moshiach).The prophet teaches that Moshiach stands
behind our wall in peers (maytzitz) through the cracks.
May we pierce the wall and immediately merit his coming.