After getting all the instructions for the Tabernacle in last week’s Torah portion, this week’s portion turns to the furnishings and clothing for the priests as well as the ordination of the Kohanim. There is a fairly extensive list of the garments to be worn. It is reminiscent of what we read last week in that no detail seems to be left untouched. If we believe that what is important is on the inside and not on the outside, why is there an emphasis on the clothing? Why can’t the High Priest wear what he (back then it was only men) feels like that day?
The Torah does not answer this directly but we can relate to these questions from our own experiences. Often we behave differently due to what we are wearing. For example, when we “dress up” we may feel a little more “formal” or special and it may affect the way we behave. The opposite might be true if we are wearing sweats and a t-shirt–not at all formal. When we go to the gym, we may feel more “powerful” when we wear the proper gear or a particularly stylish pair of shoes. Putting on a tallit has a special effect as well.
One can imagine that the Priest’s garments were meant to influence the wearer; this helps to explain why the headdress says on it “Holy to the Lord.” Ideally we should not judge a book by a cover…but often the cover is reflective of the contents of a book. The lesson here is that the book’s cover is important…and so is what’s written inside; both are necessary and complete the picture.