“These are the clothes which they shall make” (28:4). The High Priest is compared to an angel, and must have special garments to do his work. Just as an angel is pure, so must the Kohen Gadol be pure as he accomplishes his tasks. The Gemara says that just as the sacrifices atoned for sins, so too did the priestly vestments atone for sins. The breastplate, the Choshen, was next to the heart and atoned for sins committed against commandments connected to the heart. The Efod, the apron, atoned for idol worship. The outer coat, the Me’il, atoned for the sin of slander, and the coat which was worn underneath it, the Ketonet, atoned for accidental murder. The Mitznefet, or hat, atoned for haughtiness. The Avnet, which was a belt, atoned for evil feelings of the heart, a golden platelet for the High Priest’s forehead, atoned for stubbornness. The trousers, Michnasayim, atoned for lasciviousness. Rabbeinu Bechaye asks: Why are only six garments enumerated in this portion, when the High Priest actually wore eight garments?
He answers that this Parsha refers only to the garments in which Moshe Rabbeinu clothed him. The High Priest himself put on his trousers in private; and the Tzitz was a platelet of gold worn on his forehead it was an accessory rather than an article of clothing, and so was not mentioned here.
- Adapted from Tz’enah Ur’enah