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February 15, 2016 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Tetzaveh

This week’s Torah portion is all about the clothing of the priests.  Why is this important enough to be in the Torah?

Arama begins by suggesting that just as performing a mitzvah creates a habit of mindfulness and teaches spiritual lessons, studying a mitzvah has the same result- even if we cannot actually perform the mitzvah anymore.

How does this apply to priestly garments?  Arama draws an analogy, pointing out that “people wear different sets of clothing for the Sabbath and weekdays… By wearing different clothing for the Sabbath, every Jew signals that he assumes different character traits on the Sabbath.”

What clothing?  What traits?  For me (who wears a suit during the week) I usually dress more casually during Friday day, since for the past few years I have not had to go to the office on Fridays.  Although I don’t put on a full suit till Saturday night, I usually try to be a little more formal for candle lighting and kiddush, even when I am eating alone at home- for example, I might wear a sport coat and turtleneck during the winter.

And what traits we are focusing on for Shabbat?  Arama doesn’t really explain this directly- (though a few pages later he writes that soiled garments are symbolic of trangressions, clean garments of innocence).  But for me, the obvious answer is: thinking about different things.  During the week I will focus on secular matters, maybe spending a few minutes a day reading a few Dvar Torahs by email or (once a week) writing something like this.  By contrast, when I am alone on shabbos I focus on matters of Jewish interest – sometimes Torah study narrowly defined, sometimes reading more broadly about Jewish history and culture.

 

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