As the Jewish People continue their national return to their ancestral homeland, tailors at the Temple Institute in Jerusalem’s Old City began taking measurements of Kohanim (the priestly tribe designated to run the Temple services) earlier this month in anticipation of an even bigger event -- the dedication of the Third Temple.
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Yehuda Glick, director of the Temple Institute, presided over the first-ever fitting of Kohanim for their priestly garments. “Today, in this room, Kohanim are being measured for the first time in 2,000 years for the type of garments they will be wearing in the rebuilt Temple," announced Glick to an audience of rabbis, reporters and cameramen on hand to witness the historic event.
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Kohanim are required by the Torah to wear a special set of garments while on duty in the Temple, and their priestly attire, known as Bigdei Kehunah, is to be worn only during their Temple service.
The ceremony, inaugurating the Institute’s new “Bureau of Outfitting” on Ma’amadot Israel Street in the Old City, attracted several well-known rabbis who are also Kohanim.
The garments of the Kohanim are described in great detail in the Torah. While scale models of the future Temple can be seen in shop windows and the clothes of the Priesthood can be seen hanging on mannequins, the event marked the first time since the destruction of the Second Temple that real-life Kohanim have been measured for the clothing of their holy work in the Temple.
At the beginning of the ceremony, Rabbi Yisrael Ariel delivered a speech describing the importance of the occasion. “Just like the animal sacrifices atone for the Nation of Israel, so do the clothes of the Kohen,” he remarked. A man named Aviad Jerufi was on hand to model the full uniform of the Kohen, while each individual garment was described.
Pamphlets were then distributed to each Kohen being measured, containing a Jewish legal description of the clothes they were to receive. Representatives from the Israel Textile Association recorded each Kohen’s head circumference, shoulder width, leg length and other measurements as they were taken before the audience.
Among the Kohanim being measured were Rabbi Nachman Kahane, brother of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, and Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi of Efrat. Each Kohen measured received a “Kohen number”, with Rabbi Kahane awarded the honorary first number, 1, to much applause, and Rabbi Riskin - number 2.
According to Yaacov Gutfreund and Yitzchak Shechter of the Israel Textile Association, the clothes for which the Kohanim measured during the special fitting, and which they are to receive, are not intended to be worn during actual Temple service. They are rather meant to be identical in fabric and dimension to the Bigdei Kohanim that they hope and pray to wear when the Holy Temple is rededicated.
The fitting of the High Priest, who has a special set of garments, will have to wait until then.
Photos by Ze'ev Ben-Yechiel, IsraelNationalNews.com