Commentary for Tsaz

10 Apr

This week’s parshah deals with the details of various sacrifices, general priestly tasks, and, finally, the inauguration of Aaron and his sons as the priests. It starts off by detailing the procedure for removing the ashes of the previous day’s offering from the altar, but in the middle of these instructions takes a seemingly odd detour to talk about the priestly vestments. The priestly vestments were already covered back in Exodus 28:40-43, so why are they being brought up again now, with no new detail added?


Rashi points out that the word use for “his tunic”- “mido” can also mean “his measure,” and teaches us that each priest’s garments should be fitted specifically for him. Obviously this serves many practical purposes. We don’t want their sleeves to be too long and cover their hands and get in the way when they perform a sacrifice and we don’t want their tunics to be so long that they might accidentally step on them and trip themselves or each other. It also makes sense that we would want the officials performing our sacrifices to look nice and professional, showing a respect for both the important office they hold and for the Lord our God whom they serve. But there is also a deeper significance to this detail, which is why it is brought up here at this point.


Each priest is measured and fitted for his own robes. They’re not hanging on a rack in the Tabernacle divided into smalls, mediums, and larges. Everyone brings his own robes, specifically fitted to him. You can’t pass your robe off to your friend because it won’t fit him right. There is no saying “God doesn’t care who does this job as long as it gets done by someone.”   God specifically wants each individual priest. This point is brought up as God is having Moses begin to give the priests the specific instructions for performing their duties, which they will begin at the end of this parshah as they are inaugurated to remind them that they should not shirk from their duties. They have been given the task of helping others form their relationship with God, and for this high calling God is counting on each and every one of them individually.


This same ethos can be applied today to our own duty to form a relationship with God. This is not something that someone else can do for us. It is something that we ourselves must do, and which God wants each and every single one of us to do. It is not a responsibility that we can afford to shirk from.


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