Parshas Tetzaveh

Adam Harishon & the Power of Bigdei Kehunah

by Rav Brazil

The gemarah in Zevachim 88b says that the juxtaposition of korbanos next to the garments of the Kohen convey that just as the korbonos bring atonement to the sinner, so too the clothing of kohanim bring an atonement to the sinner. How does this work? If one did teshuvah then teshuvah alone should achieve atonement? If one did not do teshuvah how can these clothing alone atone for even Cardinal sins such as murder, arayos and idolatry? If they automatically atone, then why was the Beis Hamikdash destroyed because of these three aveiros?

The clothing worn by the Kohen Gadol during his avodah is first alluded to in the passuk (Bereishis 3,21)
ויעש ה' אלקים לאדם ולאשתו כתנות עור וילבשם After the chait Hashem made for Adam and Chava clothing of skin and He dressed them. The Baal Haturim writes that this passuk contains eight words corresponding to the eight garments of the Kohen Gadol. The Torah describes the בגדי כהונה as לכבוד ולתפארת who's loose translation is for honor and glory. Let us delve into the relationship between the garments made for Adam Harishon after the chait and the clothing of kovod and glory worn by the Kohen Gadol.

The Torah speaks about two episodes where Adam Harishon wore garments, both of which occurred after the chait. Immediately after eating from the Aitz Hadaas, Adam and Chava ויתפרו sewed together fig leaves and covered over their nakedness. The passuk says they did so because of their embarrassment and shame. They lost so many madraigos by eating from the Aitz Hadaas. The yetzer harah which was outside of him in the personification of the Nachash, now entered inside his body. This change had a physical effect on Adam's body for he was created without a foreskin in contrast to after the chait an ערלה suddenly appeared on his body. In this first scenario, the clothing that they made was to serve as a tikkun and a constant reminder of their aveirah and rebellion against Hashem's will. Similarly, Dovid Hamelech said about his relationship with Bas Shevah וחטאתי נגדי תמיד that one needs a constant reminder of his aveiros.

This is in contrast to the second set of clothing which Hashem Himself made for them and then dressed them. In this episode the Torah describes Hashem with two names of Hashem Elokim which symbolizes wholesomeness. For with these second garments the purpose was to convey to Adam and Chavah that even though they have sinned, they are not doomed forever. Man can nevertheless hope for accessing the rays of the spiritual light that became hidden and concealed from him, at the end of his first Shabbos spent in Gan Eden prior to their exile. To this the Baal Haturim comments that this second set of clothing which covered their total bodies not only their lower part, corresponded to the eight garments worn by the Kohen Gadol during his avodah in the Beis Hamikdash. This number of specifically eight garments corresponds to the supernatural as the Maharal explains in many places. In contrast to the first set of clothing which came about out of shame, these Kohen coverings were fashioned לכבוד ולתפארת for honor and glory. As the Shelah Hakadosh writes that these heavenly כתנות עור spelled with the letter ayin possessed the ability to access כתונת אור with the letter aleph, referring to the Divine Light created on the first day of בראשית מעשה. It is through Man's contact with this special light that he can reconnect to Gan Eden which is the supernatural oasis of spirituality.

Rav Yonasan Eibshitz writes that just as the Mishkan was a structure fashioned by Bezalel by joining certain letters of the Aleph Beis with which the heavens and earth were created, so too were the בגדי כהונה. Therefore, through these same combining of letters, the light of Gan Eden and the כתנות אור can be transferred to reside in the בגדי כהונה.

When Yaakov Avinu entered Yitzchak's presence to receive the berachos from his father, he was donned with Aisav's בגדי חומדות coveted garments which Chazal say were the clothing that Hashem fashioned for Adam after the chait. For a rasha character such as Aisav, even while wearing such clothing he remained עור skin, for the concealed light was totally inaccessible to him. However, for Yaakov the tzadik, who's neshama controlled his body and his evil inclination, by wearing these בגדי כהונה the כתנות אור, Chazal say that the scent of Gan Eden entered with him.

The Sfas Emes asks why did Hashem place guards over Gan Eden to ensure that Man cannot reenter inside. He could have just made it impossible to enter without guards. It is to convey that if one tries and toils very hard and with all his strength and wisdom he will be able to find a way to circumvent the guards and reenter the Gan. Yes it is possible for the one who seeks it with all his heart and might.

This would explain the juxtaposition of the ketores the incense next to the garment of the Kohen Gadol. The ketores has the power to push off death. When Moshe ascended to Har Sinai the Malach Hamavis gave to him the present of ketores to use against it during a plague. We see from this that the ketores prevents death which therefore makes it supernatural, a kind of state of Adam before the chait. Furthermore the Bnei Yissaschor writes that the sense of smell was the only sense not involved in Adam and Chava eating from the Aitz Hadaas and therefore it is somewhat connected to before the chait. This is the reason that smell is the exclusive pleasure of the neshama and not the body.

These garments of the Kohen Gadol returned the kovod of Hashem by arousing within Klal Yisrael the motivation to do teshuvah on their aveiros. The Kohen Gadol in his avodah in the Mikdash was the sheliach of Yisrael.. By wearing these clothing which were infused with the power and segulah of the clothing that Hashem personally made for Adam Harishon after the chait, inspired individuals who sinned to repent by feeling the אור כתנות and the scent from Gan Eden. For the body that has skin עור lacks clarity of the truth and is compared to an עוור - a blind person as they share identical letters. It is the body which craves to sin and does not realize how destructive an aveirah is to itself and to the neshamah. The bigday kehunah brings focus to the person enabling him to see his shortcomings and correct them.

This is why the juxtaposition of lighting the menorah is next to making the garments of the kehunah. In our parsha it says להעלות נר תמיד to light up the flame always. The sefarim explain that Ahron's lighting up the flames of the Menorah is symbolic to igniting the neshamos of Yidden which are compared to a נר as it is written (Mishlei 20,27) נר ה' נשמת אדם Being the sheliach of Klal Yisrael, Ahron the Kohen Gadol brought inspiration to Yidden by lighting up the neshama to come out of its hiding and light up the body and the seven middos it contains which are also alluded to in the seven branches of the Menorah. Similarly, when Ahron did the avodah in the Beis Hamikdash and wore the garments designated for it, he aroused Yisrael to do true teshuvah even on Cardinal sins such as murder and arayos and thus they were forgiven for their aveiros.

It is from the juxtaposition of the בגדי כהונה to the korbonos that teach us that the garments were there just to inspire and move us to teshuvah just like the korban. That by merely offering a sacrifice in itself, there wasn't an automatic kaparah. Kaparah only came about if it was accompanied with teshuvah. The generation of the Beis Hamikdash's destruction did not do teshuvah and hence the בגדי כהונה were to no avail.

We find other Chazals that state who ever walks four amos in Eretz Yisrael he can be assured he is a ben olam habah (Kesuvos 111).He Or another intriguing Chazal (Berachos 4b) is that one becomes a ben olam habah if he says Ashrei three times a day. Rav Dessler explains that these and similar Chazal do not mean that it works as a segulah but rather that by saying and understanding the meaning of Ashrei one will be inspired to lead such a virtuous life that he will truly become a ben olam habah. Similarly if one walks four amos in Eretz Yisrael and understands its kedusha and his great zechus of being there, he will be spirited to do teshuva and have his aveiros forgiven and he becomes a ben olam haba. The same interpretation can be applied to the בגדי כהונה which have the power to arouse the motivation of teshuva in the chotei for transgressing particular aveiros.

Now we can understand the depth of the description of the בגדי כהונה to be לכבוד ולתפארת. The word כבוד besides meaning honor also is interpreted to mean clean away dirt etc. By sweeping the dirt away one gives honor to the place he sweeps and to people who enter into that place. The power of these garments of the Kohen Gadol is to arouse one to do teshuvah on his sins and thereby sweep them away and consequently honoring his body, soul, and the creator of them both. For after he cleanses himself from his aveiros his relationship and subjugation to Hashem becomes deeper and intensified. This brings to the state of תפארת by which one finds himself after the כבוד process. For it contains the letters תאפר which means to become ashes like Avraham said on himself אנכי עפר ואפר. The בגד stirs within the Yid the drive to sweep out his aveiros, remove the mechitzos between him and Hashem, and become בטול ומבוטל to Him, devoted and dedicated to bring the Shechinah into his daily life.