In our next few posts, we will focus on two of the garments of the Kohen Gadol; the Ephod and the Choshen and the relationship between them.
The Ephod was a type of apron that was worn from behind and would drape down to the heels of the Kohen Gadol. On the shoulder straps there were two Shoham (onyx) stones on which were engraved the names of the 12 Tribes, 6 names on each stone.
The Choshen was a woven breastplate that the Kohen Gadol wore above his heart. It had 12 different precious stones set in golden settings, with the name of one of the 12 Tribes on each stone.
The Choshen was tied to the Ephod with Techeiles-wool threads and the Torah gives an explicit warning (and prohibition) “and the Choshen shall not be detached from the Ephod”.
Worn from behind and extending down to the ankles, the Ephod represents the lowest and most mundane aspects of our lives and the lowest and most external levels of our psyche. The Choshen, worn over the heart, represents the loftiest levels of the soul. The two encompass our entire being, from our greatest spiritual qualities to our most basic functions.
The Torah’s prohibition teaches us that we need to make sure that the two are constantly secured together, uniting these two extremities of our lives.
Our lofty G-dly feelings should not only be channelled into our spiritual activities of prayer and study. We need to make sure that everything that we do, even our most mundane, is permeated with the influence and inspiration from the deepest levels of our souls.
~ Based on Sicha Adar 21, 5748
Dedicated לע"נ ר' דוד בן יוסף – In loving memory of Zaidie Ainsworth