Judaism: 1. Two Adars 2.The Meaning of Clothing
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The Power of Clothing
In this weeks portion we learn about the priestly vestments. The verse tells us, "ועשית בגדי קדש לאהרון ולאחיך לכבוד ולתפארת", - that we should make holy clothing for Aaron and his sons, for honor and glory. This is an ambiguous sentence, whose honor and glory are these clothing meant to be made for?
The Ramban in an attempt to define who the phrase is referring to, writes that the priestly vestments give honor to the person that wears them. The Kohanim, priests, develop a greater level of importance and people that look at the Kohanim wearing these clothing, respect them on a much higher level, than when they are dressed in their pedestrian outfits. He compares the clothing the priest wears to the clothing that a king wears, which act so that when people see them they immediately hold the king in a higher regard, and treat the king with greater respect.
The Ramban then gives us a second application of the term "for honor and glory". He writes that the Kohanim need to wear this special clothing to give them a feeling of greater importance for their own tasks. They are supposed to treat whatever they are doing with proper respect and deference. When they are wearing special clothing they are able to have an elevated mindset that does not exist when they are not clothed with these garments.
The Baal Haturim in identifying the goal of the clothing writes that gematria of the word "ephod" (apron) is that of the word angel, due to the fact that when the priest puts it on, he instantaneously becomes one. This shows the importance and immediate impact of the clothing that the Kohanim wore, and why they were so crucial. Additionally, the Baal Haturim adds that wearing the ephod that had a hem served to remind the priest about slander, לשון הרע, that may have been spoken and when he puts on the coat, מעיל, he is moved to repent and attain atonement.
The Sefer Hachinuch takes a similar approach and points out that at the root of the mitzva of the priestly vestments is the fact that האדם נפעל לפי פעולותיו, our mindset follows our actions. When the priest looks at any part of his body, he will be reminded before whom he is doing the task. He points out that the idea of wearing the priestly garments is similar to the idea of wearing tefillin, which have an inherent level of holiness. When one is wearing themן his thoughts and actions should immediately be elevated to a higher state.
Maimonides writes that there is a halakha to wear special clothing on the Sabbath that is different than the clothing one wears during the week. Seemingly Maimonides is going within the second approach of the Ramban, that wearing special clothing gives honor to the action one is doing, not necessarily to the person himself. If we are do this properly it can change our outlook on the Sabbath in specific and daily life in general. Understanding that human psychology allows for our hearts to reflect our actions, should push us to act in ways that will lead to increased and closer connection to Hashem.
A Year Pregnant with Kedusha
As we all know, this is a special year in the Jewish calendar. It is a “shana me’uberes,” a leap year. Unlike the secular leap year which adds only one day to their calendar (February 29), we Jews add an entire month! And not just any month, but everyone’s favorite month, Adar!
But before we can start to celebrate the great joy, simcha, of Adar, we must pay notice to something else. It is brought down that the time period between the readings of the Torah portions of Shemos through Mishpatim is nicknamed “Shovavim.” The holy books say that this is an acrostic of the first letters of the 6 portions from Shemos through Mishpatim and plays on the pasuk ‘shuvu banim shovavim’ in Yirmiya, meaning that Klal Yisroel should return to G-d in teshuva.
The righteous say that during this time Jews should work on the being holy, the inyan of kedusha. It can be argued that this is one of the major things that separate us from the nations of the world and make us godlike, being holy, kadosh. It is also brought down that it is davka at this time, during the cold winter months, that we prepare for the great light and God's revelation that comes down to us on Purim. By working on the inyan of kedusha, we are able to make spiritual keilim, vessels, to receive this great light of Purim.
It is interesting to note that this year, with its double Adar, also brings about an addition to Shovavim. Instead of only going until parashas Mishpatim, the acrostic extends further, until this week’s parasha, Tetzave. We call this time period Shovavim Tat; Tat referring to the two added portions of Terumah and Tetzave. What comes out of this is something unbelievable.
Although the point is debated, many hold that the additional Adar brings with it a whole extra month of joy, “mishenichnas Adar marbin besimcha.” Unlike a normal year, in which we have only 2 weeks of this ‘simchas Adar’, joy associated with the month of Adar to bring us into Purim, this year we are given 6 whole weeks!
However, based on what we just said, this is not entirely true. The first 2 weeks of Adar Rishon are entwined with the seriousness of Shovavim, now Shovavim Tat. We are, therefore, left with 2 extra weeks of Shovavim which are combined with Adar, and 2 extra weeks of just Adar, before Purim.
I believe that there is a very deep purpose found in this phenomenon in the calendar. Presumably, the extra Adar time requires extra preparation. We, therefore, have 2 more weeks of shovavim to prepare ourselves. But it is not like a normal year, where we can go straight from Shovavim mode into joyous Adar mode. Seemingly, the Light is so great this year that we need time to gradually move into the ‘mochin’, mindset, of Adar. Therefore, we are given the 2 weeks of a combined Shovavim/Adar.
If this is so, it appears that Purim on a leap year is much deeper than Purim on a regular year. When Rav Moshe Wolfson Shlit”a talks about Purim Katan (lesser Purim), in his book Emunas Itecha, he refers to Purim in Adar Bet as Purim Gadol (greater Purim). The existence of a Purim Katan makes room for a Purim Gadol. Based on what we have said this makes perfect sense.
The greater the Purim, the greater preparation we need, and the greater keilim of kedusha, holy vessels, we need to receive the great light. May we all merit to grab onto the last ounces of kedusha in this Shabbos’ completion of Shovavim and to wipe out the Amalek from our lives and hearts in the coming weeks.