This week’s Torah portion contains more very detailed instructions, this time concerning the vestments for Aaron and his four sons, who will be the priests; their ordination; and other items the priests will use in their work (the menorah, its olive oil, and an altar for burning incense). Some commentators wonder why the name of Moses is not mentioned in this portion (he’s only referred to as “you”): the portion is often read during a week including the 7th of Adar, calculated as the date of Moses’s death, so the absence of his name is appropriate symbolically, or maybe a foreshadowing of the time the Children of Israel will have to do without him. My own opinion is that, since the whole thing is the Lord speaking to Moses, his name is extraneous (like, “Moses, you will tell the Children of Israel to…”).
The vestments, especially for Aaron as High Priest, are very elaborate. Some of the detail is symbolic, such as the two stones on which the names of the twelve tribes are carved (in age order), framed in gold and attached to the shoulders of the ephod, or, similarly, the 12 gemstones arranged on the breastplate, again, one per tribe. [A definition of ephod: “n. A part of the sacerdotal habit among Jews, being a covering for the back and breast, held together on the shoulders by two clasps or brooches of onyx stones set in gold, and fastened by a girdle of the same stuff as the ephod. The ephod for the priests was of plain linen; that for the High Priest was richly embroidered in colors. The breastplate of the High Priest was worn upon the ephod in front.” Source: http://www.lexic.us/definition-of/ephod , which also has lots of pictures related to the vestments]. And the little gold bells around the ephod hem allowed him to be heard when he was alone in the Holy of Holies. [BTW, this was my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah portion 15 (!) years ago and she got a kick out of the little bells.]
What you wear means a lot. Your wardrobe broadcasts your identity, your function, even your beliefs. As I read the description of Aaron’s outfit this year, what came to mind were two wildly contrasting get-ups: the outfits worn by the Mummers , especially the Fancy Division ((I’m a former Philadelphian – for those who aren’t, there are Fancy, Comic, and String Band Divisions in the New Year’s Day Mummers parade); and the burka (or burqa). The former is fun. The latter, when worn by Jewish women and their young daughters to cover them completely except for their eyes, is alarming. See, e.g., http://blogs.forward.com/sisterhood-blog/129728/ , http://blogs.forward.com/sisterhood-blog/127114/ , and http://www.viciousbabushka.com/2011/02/jewish-women-wearing-burqa-a-disturbing-trend.html . Even haredi (the ultra-stringent sect among the Orthodox) rabbis are alarmed. Many of these women are described as “newly religious,” which may explain their eagerness to extend the laws of modesty (tz’niut) to an extreme. But this goes far beyond the enthusiastic ritual punctiliousness typical of newly observant Jews. This is a distortion of tz’niut in which the women are ironically calling attention to themselves, not deflecting it.
The Mummers costumes below just struck my fancy (as in “the Fancy Division,” get it?). There are a lot of others at the mummers/photo-gallery site.
Jewelry Joke of the Day
(reload the page to get a different joke)
What did one diamond-dealer say to the other?
No cuts; No glory.
What happened to the Quartz when it turned pink?
What is a diamond’s favourite card game?
How many goldsmiths does it take to change a lightbulb?
None, that‘s apprentice work.
What did the rabbit give his honey?
A caret cake.
Customer: “How old is this diamond?”
Salesman: “Three million and three years old.”
Customer: “My gosh, how can you be so precise?”
Salesman: “It was three million years old when I started here, and I’ve been here three years.”
Customer says: “Your poster claims that ear-piercing is completely painless. Is that true?”
Jeweler responds: “Certainly, madam, I’ve done thousands of piercings, and I’ve never felt a thing!”
Ring Those Bells
|How many inventors does it take to change a light bulb?
One, but first he needs to get patent protection.
|United States Patent|
December 7, 2004