From The Masters Of Kabbalah and Chumash (5 Books of
13th century - "RambaN" - Rabbi Moshe ben
14th century - "Bachya" - Rabbi Bachya ben
16th century - "Alsheich" - Rabbi Moshe
Alshech of Tsfat
17th century - "Shelah" - Rabbi Yeshaiya
18th century - "Ohr HaChayim" - Rabbi Chaim
"And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for
splendor and beauty" [Ex. 28:2]
By way of the Truth [the mystic teachings of the Kaballah], majesty is
to kavod [glory] and to tiphereth [splendor], the verse
thus stating that they should make holy garments for Aaron to minister
in them to the Glory of G-d Who dwells in their midst, and to the Splendor
of their strength, as it is written, For Thou art the Glory of their strength,
and it is further stated, Our holy and our beautiful house, where our
fathers praised Thee, meaning ["the house of] our Holy One"
which is the Glory, and "of our Splendor" which is the 'Splendor
of Israel. And it is further stated, Strength and beauty are in His Sanctuary,
and similarly, To beautify the place of My Sanctuary, and I will make
the place of My feet glorious - meaning, that the place of the Sanctuary
will be glorified by the Splendor, and the place of His feet, which is
the place of the Sanctuary, will be honored by the presence of the Glory
of G d. And in Israel will He glorify Himself also means that in Israel
He will show and designate His Splendor. Likewise He says further with
respect to the garments of all of Aaron's sons, that they are for splendor
and for beauty. Of the sacrifices He also says, they will come up with
'ratzon' [will - acceptance] on Mine altar, and I will glorify
My glorious house. Thus the altar is His Will and the house of His Glory
is the Splendor.
"And you will make sacred vestments..for glory and splendor"
A kabbalistic approach: the words glory and splendor describe the task
Aaron and his sons are to perform when performing their duties in the
Tabernacle. It is their task to reflect credit on the Jewish people in
the eyes of the Lord when they perform their duties dressed in these garments.
You are aware already that the Tabernacle on earth was a model of the
Sanctuary of the future. Isaiah 64:10 referred to the Temple as "the
House of our sanctity and glory." What he meant when referring
to "our sanctity" was the honor, and by the word "our
glory" he referred to the glory that is Israel. The same idea is
expressed by King Amatziah in Amos 7:13: "for it is a king's sanctuary
and a royal palace" [so he forbade the prophet to prophesy in the
temple at Bethel]. The reason that the word lekahano in lekahano
li is spelled with the letter vav at the end is to allude to
the sixth emanation which is called tiferet. The world li
is equivalent to lehashem, i.e. G-d's attribute kavod.
"And you shall command the children of Yisrael, that they bring
you pure olive oil...for the light...." [27:20]
First let us examine why the Torah does not say to light neirot,
i.e. plural instead of ner, one light, singular. After all the
Menorah had seven lights! Midrash Tanchumah Tetzaveh 4, tells us
that G-d said to Israel 'if you light the Menorah before Me, I
will light for you from the great light in the future' as the prophet
Isaiah says (Isaiah 60:19), 'the Lord will be an eternal light for you,
and your G-d will be glory for you.' At first glance this seems to reinforce
the problem. After all, not only does G-d not need our light, but on the
contrary, our whole existence down here is due only to the light He has
Shemot Rabba 37, explains the verse in Job 14:15 'He longs for the work
of your hands" as referring to Israel, i.e. the Levites guarding
the tabernacle. Although G-d is the guardian of Israel, He commands the
Levites to stand guard around the tabernacle. How can His creatures guard
G-d wishes to bring us near Him, assure us of eternal life. This is so,
because He views Israel as part of Himself, seeing that we are ma-asseh
yadav (His handwork). To this end, He commands us to perform certain
actions in order that He can reciprocate, midah keneged midah (in
a corresponding manner). Therefore, if Israel watches over the microcosm,
the tabernacle, G-d in turn, has reason to watch over our position in
the macrocosm. If we light His Menorah, then He has reason to keep
our eternal light burning.
Concerning Aaron, the Torah writes: "As for you [Moses], bring
close Aaron your brother etc." (Ex. 28:1) Here the Torah expresses
a mystical dimension of the verse: "No man shall be inside the tent."
(Lev. 16:17) This is a reference to original Adam. The universe was created
under the aegis of loving-kindness, as we know from "The universe
was built with loving-kindness" (Psalms 89:3).
The "The structure corresponding to the physical universe in the
Celestial Regions," contains the secret of the seven days of creation
and commences with the sefira of chesed down to the sefira of malchut,
i.e. seven emanations.
We find that in connection with Aaron, the man of kindness [representing
the attribute of chesed], the Torah (Deut. 33:8) speaks about the "Urim
and Tumim". We have explained that the three groups of Israelites,
i.e. the Priests, Levites, and Israelites, corresponded to the three sefirot
of chesed, gevura, tiferet, respectively.
The original "jewelry" had been taken from Man due to the powerful
impact of Adam's sin. At that time Man's original vestments were exchanged
from "kutanot or" [spelled with an alef], "garments made
of light", for "kutanot ohr" [spelled with an ayin], "garments
made of hide" (Gen. 3:21). In our portion, the Torah orders that
"kutanot", tunics, be made for Aaron's sons (Ex. 28:40), who
had to be dressed in sacred vestments. They put on holy anointing oil
on their bodies before they dressed in the sacred vestments.
By following this procedure, the priests ceased being "strangers"
or "outsiders", as they had been before putting on garments
which could not be worn by non-priests. When Adam became an "outsider",
this was due to the pollutant with which the Serpent had infected him.
It was this pollutant from which he had to be purified.
"And you shall make holy garments for your brother Aaron for
splendor and beauty" (28:2)
The Torah commanded that the High Priest wear 8 garments, 4 made of white
linen and four containing gold. The Torah says that the reason is 'for
splendor and for beauty.'
We find the following comment in the introduction of Tikkuney haZohar.
"The four golden garments are an allusion to the four letters in
the Ineffable Name, whereas the four white linen garments are an allusion
to the four letters in G-d's name A-d-n-ai" We should remember that
the Ineffable Name reflects G-d's attribute of tiferet (beauty),
whereas G-d's name A-d-n-ai reflects his attribute of kavod
(splendor). According to this, the word tiferet in our verse would
refer to the golden garments, whereas the word lichvod would refer
to the white garments. The Torah listed varying degrees of holiness in
ascending order, hence the attribute lichvod precedes the attribute
G-d directed that eight garments were to be made for the High Priest
in order for him to be able to obtain atonement for his people for the
various imperfections that people are guilty of as a normal part of their
lives. Aaron's wearing these garments would enable the Israelites concerned
to achieve their proper place in the higher regions.
Adapted from the 13th century classic by the illustrious scholar, philosopher
and defender of the faith, Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman-known as 'RAMBAN' or
'Nachmanides', a master kabbalist in his own right and a major link in
the transmission of Jewish mysticism-based on the excellent annotated
English translation, Nachmanides on the Torah, by Rabbi Dr. Charles B.
Selected with permission from the seven-volume English edition of The
Torah Commentary of Rabbeinu Bachya, as translated and annotated by Eliyahu
Munk. Rabbi Bachya ben Asher [1255-1340] of Saragosa, Spain, was the outstanding
pupil of Rabbi Shlomo ben Aderet (the "Rashba"), a main disciple
of Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (the "Ramban"). Several books have
been written about the Kabballah-based portions of R. Bachya's commentary.
Adapted from Torat Moshe - the 16th commentary of Rabbi Moshe Alshech,
the "Preacher of Zefat" on the Torah, as translated and condensed
in the English version of Eliyahu Munk
Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz was born in Prague around the year 1565. He served
as Rabbi of Cracow and other congregations before he was appointed as
the Rabbi of the community of Frankfurt on Main in the year 1610. In 1916,
Rabbi Horowitz moved to Prague where he became the Chief Rabbi of the
city. He moved to Eretz Yisrael about 1621. He was rabbi in Jerusalem
and in Tiberias, where he died in or about 1630. In addition to his magnus
opus, Shenei Luchot HaBrit, he also compiled an edition of the prayer-book
with a comprehensive commentary. Many of his innovations, including his
formulation of the Kol Nidrei prayer, have become part and parcel of the
Selected with permission from the five-volume English edition of Ohr HaChaim:
the Torah Commentary of Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar, as translated and annotated
by Eliyahu Munk.
The holy Rabbi Chayim ben Moses Attar was born in Sale, Western Morocco,
on the Atlantic in 1696. His immortal commentary on the Five Books Of
Moses, Or Hachayim, was printed in Venice in 1741, while the author was
on his way to the Holy Land. He acquired a reputation as a miracle worker,
hence his title "the holy," although some apply this title only
to his Torah commentary.