In our previous posts we discussed the relationship between the Choshen and the Ephod and the names of Bnei Yisroel engraved on their different stones. In this post, we will extend the connection to a third garment – the Me’il
The Me’il was a robe made of blue wool. On its hem there were decorative adornments of golden bells and pomegranates created with coloured wool.
Specifically concerning these three garments, the Torah emphasises that the Kohen Gadol would wear them “before Hashem”;
The book of Tanya describes three categories of Jews; Tzaddikim – the perfectly righteous who have no desire for negativity, Beinonim – those who struggle with negative impulses but always manage to control themselves to do the right thing and Reshaim - those who succumb to their negative desires and have fallen spiritually.
The Choshen, worn in the front over the Kohen Gadol’s heart, represent the Tzaddikim, who serve Hashem with an inner service of feeling and desire. The Ephod, worn from behind, represents the service of the Beinoni, who still has spiritual struggles to contend with. The Shoham stones on the shoulders depict how the Beinoni’s main service is to control their actions.
The Reshaim are represented by the pomegranates on the hem of the Me’il. These are the Jews who appear lowly, hanging off the hem. Still, our sages teach that even the sinners amongst the Jewish people are full of Mitzvos like a pomegranate [is full of seeds].
Externally, in their spiritual standing, the Jews in each of these categories are worlds apart. But in their inner essence, ‘Before Hashem’, every Jew has an equal, inseparable connection and purity. As a leader and representative of the Jewish people, the Kohen Gadol’s job was to lift every Jew up and bring them ‘before Hashem’ and reveal their essential self.
Today is the Yartzheit of Aharon, the first Kohen Gadol to wear these garments. Aharon was known for his deep love for every individual. We can all reflect on this message: Instead of judging others based on how we view them, let’s try to see each person the way they are “before Hashem”.
~ Based on Likutei Sichos volume 21 Tetzaveh 2
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