According to our sages, the robe that was worn by the priest served as atonement for the sins involving lashon hora – derogatory and damaging speech.
It is brought down that the reason the Torah portion of the priestly garments was written next to the Torah portion dealing with sacrifices is because the priestly garments – like sacrifices – atone for our transgressions. Specifically, the color of the robe was blue like the sky to remind us that our words rise to the Heavens. Thus, we should be very careful n what we say. We are also told that the neckline of the robe was tight but never ripped, reminding us to “tighten” our mouths when the desire to speak lashon hara is felt.
The robe also had bells hanging from the bottom hem. These bells were of two varieties: gold and cloth. The golden bells would ring out when the kohein walked about while the cloth bells remained silent. This also provided us with a valuable lesson: There are times when an individual should speak, and there are times when a person should remain silent. The opportunity to perform a mitzvah should encourage one to speak out and take action while the opportunity to attack others should pass by without a sound being uttered – like the cloth bell.
The Sforno comments that the kohein’s role is that of a teacher in all of his countenance. That he be “a teaching priest held in reverence by all them round about him.” Rabbi Raphael Pelcovitz contends that even the garments of the Kohein Gadol (High Priest) “lend to the dignity of the office of the High Priest” so that the people, who are all meant to be his pupils, will revere and respect him. In a subtle manner the Sforno indicates that reverence for a teacher is motivated not only by the inherent respect students have for their teacher but also by the concern the teacher shows for them.”
Visiting the Sick!
A rabbi who collected for a Jewish day school called upon a wealthy man who was known to be a miser. “There is no point in your appealing to me,” the man advised. “I do not give for Jewish education.”
“I didn’t come here for a donation,” the rabbi shot back. “I came to fulfill the mitzvah of bikur cholim, visiting the sick.”
“But I am perfectly healthy,” the miser asserted.
“No, you are not,” the rabbi calmly insisted. “Solomon teaches in Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) ‘There is a bad disease that I have seen: wealth that is kept to its owner’s detriment.’ Since you hoard your wealth, you indeed suffer from a disease so I came to see you.”
“But are there not many other sick people?” the miser asked. “Why do you single me out for a visit?”
“Because,” the rabbi said, smiling, “the Talmud says that whoever visits a sick person takes away one sixtieth of his disease. What can I expect if I walk away with one sixtieth of someone’s malaria? Nothing but tzorus! But if I walk away with one sixtieth of your disease, I will do very well indeed!” (Smiling Each Day, Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.)
A Final Thought
Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin preferred to learn a small about of Torah in depth rather than learning a great deal superficially. He would say: “God does not count the pages one learns but only the hours.” (A Touch of Wisdom, A Touch of Wit)
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Candle Lighting Times and Torah Portions
Shevat-Adar I 5771
Friday, February 4
Light candles at 5:07 p.m.
Saturday, February 5
Torah Portion: Terumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19)
Friday, February 11
Light candles at 5:14 p.m.
Saturday, February 12
Torah Portion: Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20-30:10)
Friday, February 18
Light candles at 5:20 p.m.
Saturday, February 19
Torah Portion: Ki Tissa (Exodus 30:11-34:35)
Friday, February 25
Light candles at 5:26 p.m.
Saturday, February 26
Torah Portion: Vayakhel (Exodus 35:1-38:20)