The Torah describes the function of the Kohen Gadol’s clothing as לכבוד ולתפראת, literally “for honour and beauty”. In Chassidus, the word Kavod (honour) is associated with the Sefira of Malchus and Tiferes (beauty) is associated with the Sefira known as Tiferes.
What is significant about these Sefiros and how are they reflected in the Priestly garments?
In our last post, we discussed the 2 categories of clothing of the Kohen Gadol; white garments and gold garments.
The colour white is associated with the Sefira of Chessed, so the white garments represent the attribute of Chessed, loving kindness. The golden garments represent the Sefira of Gevurah, discipline and restraint. The Torah teaches that gold is found in the north, which corresponds to the left side, Gevurah.
A single, stark colour is not beautiful. Beauty is created through the synthesis and blending of different colours together in the right balance. So too, a single Sefira; either Chessed or Gevurah on its own, is not beautiful. Beauty is found in the Sefira of Tiferes which blends together a balance of Chessed and Gevurah.
In a similar way, the Sefira of Malchus receives from all of the Sefiros and brings their energies together.
By wearing the white garments (Chessed) and gold garments (Gevurah) simultaneously, the Kohen Gadol’s clothing are both לכבוד (Malchus) and לתפארת (beauty).
On a basic level, the message is that a single homogeneity, where we all must think and be the same is not beautiful. Like a tapestry, the beauty of our people and communities is when we bring our diversity and unique qualities together.
The lesson also plays out in our relationships. An approach of pure Chessed - indiscriminate giving, openness and tolerance without expectation and rules, is not beautiful. Too much rigidity and discipline without empathy and compassion is also not beautiful.
Like the Kohen Gadol, we need to mix the two together, allowing them to temper one another, to create a balance that is both honourable and beautiful.