The Kohein Gadol's Head-Gear by Yomi Greenstein



    This week's Parsha contains a list of details to how the Mishkan was built and set up, as well as how the clothing of the Kohein Gadol and of the other Kohanim were made.  Included in this list are many very specific items, such as threads of Techeiles and Argaman (which are both forms of dyed wool) and of linen; some of these items appear over and over throughout the Parsha.  At first glance, it would appear as if most of this Parsha is just a list of materials and measurements.  However, upon careful examination of the Pesukim, one may quickly begin to think otherwise and discover that one can find many things to be learned.   
    For example, the Posuk states regarding the Kohein Gadol's Tzitz, a golden head-plate, "ויתנו עליו פתיל תכלת לתת על המצנפת מלמעלה" (שמות ל"ט:ל"א).  The Posuk is telling us that the Tzitz, the gold head-plate that is placed on the Kohein Gadol's forehead, should have one string of Techeiles (special blue wool) which should be placed above the Kohein Gadol's head-dress.  Rashi asks what the Posuk means by saying that it was placed on the head-dress from above.  It can not be that the term מלמעלה"," above, refers to the location of the Tzitz and that the Tzitz was above the head-dress, because Chazal say that there was space between the Tzitz and the head-dress where the Kohein Gadol put his Tefillin.  It therefore must refer to the thread of the Tzitz.  But Rashi then makes an interesting point about an inconsistency in the Pesukim. In our Parsha (שם), the Torah states that the thread of blue should be placed on the Tzitz, whereas previously, in Parshas Tetzaveh (ויקרא כ"ח:ל"ז), the Torah writes "ושמת אתו על פתיל תכלת," meaning that the Tzitz should be placed on the blue thread.  Rashi gives a practical answer to this, saying that there were a total of three strings that would hold the Tzitz in place.  One would be tied from the middle going up, on top of the head-dress and two would be tied on each end of the Tzitz, beneath the head-dress; the Pesukim are thus rectified.
    Perhaps, though, one can suggest a deeper answer.  In order to come to this answer, however, we must first ask ourselves why the Chumash needs to tell us all this information about the Tzitz (and all the other garments) twice; the Torah does not waste words.  Second, we must ask why the Torah needs to change its description of how to place the blue thread and Tzitz together.  Finally, we must ask what the Torah really means when it says the word ""מלמעלה referring to a place above the head-dress.
    The reason the Torah states all these details twice, to answer our first question, is so that we may grasp their significance and understand that there is something to learn here that goes beyond the simple meaning.  Perhaps the reason the Torah states מלמעלה"," turning to our third question, is to teach us that even though all of the Kohein Gadol's clothing is expensive and extravagant, the head-dress, which is always considered the pinnacle of such extravagance, is the subject here together with the Tzitz.  After all, on the Tzitz were the words "קדש לה'," "holy to Hashem," which were a reminder to the Kohein Gadol that no matter how extravagant his apparel and head-dress was, his commitment to "קדש לה'" should always be "מלמעלה," above and more important than anything.  His fancy apparel should thus not feed his ego and turn him astray, rather the Tzitz should be metaphorically and symbolically above his whole being and dress.      
    Similarly, to answer our second question, the reason the language in Parshas Tetzaveh is "ויתנו עליו פתיל תכלת" "place upon it (the Tzitz) a blue string," is that just as this blue, as Chazal tell us, was the color of blue water, we are reminded that Chazal also tell us that water is like Torah.  Just as one can not survive without water, one can not survive without Torah.  Therefore, the lesson here to the Kohein Godol is to ensure that he knows that Torah, represented by the color of blue, is his true sustenance, and not fancy material and physical possessions, such as his expensive apparel.  The Tzitz is thus accompanied by this blue thread, to which attention is called by changing its presentation in the Torah the second time around.
    The lesson the Torah is trying to teach us here is quite clear.  If the Kohein Godol, who is a great person and is our link to Hashem, can possibly fall prey to power, money, and greed, such that the Torah needs to remind him who he is and what he stands for, all the more so should we, who are not on the Kohein Godol's level, be extra careful that our lives should be one reflecting the idea of קדש לה' and the symbolism of the blue threads, representing Torah.

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