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Rabbi Lisa's Message

February 21, 2024

Details. Details. Details. This week, in parashat Tzeveh, we continue on with lots of specific instructions. Last week, the checklist focused on all the particulars for building the mishkan (portable tabernacle). This week, there is an emphasis on describing how to outfit the Kohein Gadol, the high priest, in sacred finery. The special garments are quite ornate and intricate in design. As one designated to serve G-d, the high priest carries a special status. With this special status comes an elegantly elevated wardrobe. As such, their appearance is noticeable, distinct, set apart from the rest of the people.

One of the special pieces is something called a tzitz, a fancy headpiece. On this tiara like turban is  a gold plate with the words קֹ֖דֶשׁ לַֽיהֹוָֽה, Holy to G-d. We no longer have the Kohein Gadol. Our tradition teaches that each of us is like a High Priest in our own right. With this in mind, Rabbi Shefa Gold teaches that  across our foreheads each of us carries this same inscription, Holy to G-d. 

What would it be like to carry ourselves in High Priest fashion–as if we had this sacred slogan, this majestic mantra, radiating out from the own “crown” of our foreheads. Not only that, what if we beheld each other as if this crown catchphrase were true, that each of us was Holy to G-d? How might this change our judgements, our actions, our speech toward others?

An interesting challenge, isn’t it? To imagine ourselves cloaked in the finery of the Kohein Gadol. Not because it is fancy and cool (which it is), but because it connects us to our own holy nature. And it helps us see clearly the distinct holiness in each other. 

The most important part of this challenge is to step into those “clothes” when we feel most unworthy; to  imagine that Holy to G-d crown on those in our midst that test the limits of our empathy and compassion. May we do exactly that.

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