It’s mid-February and gray. Unsettled. I have not yet watched my “it’s mid-February and gray” movie, Enchanted April (1991). Classes and rehearsals have re-started, sort of, interrupted by cold and wet precipitation. So, you’re getting comments from 2012 this week. My synagogue has begun holding services in the shared space, and the Torah portion happens to be my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah portion, which she read from in the synagogue with which we are sharing space.
Tetzaveh includes instructions for Moses (the “you” – his name isn’t mentioned) concerning the menorah; the duties, vestments, and ordination procedures for the priests; and the altar for burning incense. Again, these are just the instructions; we’ll read about their being carried out in a few weeks.
The garments for the priests (Aaron’s sons) include fringed linen tunics, linen headdresses (turbans), embroidered sashes, and, for modesty and decorum, linen breeches. As High Priest, Aaron has additional vestments: a breastplate, an ephod, and a robe. The breastplate is to include 12 gemstones representing the 12 tribes, with the name of each tribe carved on a gemstone. Here is a definition of “ephod” I included here last year (2011) “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 a link to lots of pictures related to the vestments. The robe is to be blue and have on its hem alternating golden bells and “pomegranates” (pom-poms) of blue, purple, and crimson yarn. The bells were my daughter’s favorite part of the uniform.
[Source for the following paragraph’s content: A Daily Dose of Torah, Y. A. Weiss general editor] Why does the High Priest have such elaborate garments, aside from simply wowing those who look at him? And they had to fit perfectly; according to the Gemara, a priest’s sacrificial service could be invalidated if his clothes were too long or short (Zevachim 35a). According to Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah, section 99), the vestments constantly remind the priest of his mission and contribute to the aura of holiness in the Tabernacle. The Maharal of Prague (apparently one of my ancestors) further noted that the Hebrew words for “heavy” and “honor” have the same root. Presumably, the substance (weightiness) of the vestments symbolized the degree of honor accorded the priest.
I’m part of a Facebook group set up for my high school class. A recent discussion concerned when we were first allowed to were slacks (not jeans) to school. It was the middle of junior year. By graduation, slacks had become the new “normal” to the extent that it was actually a shock to see everyone in dresses (white dresses, not cap and gown). When I was a child, on Fridays, I wore a dress to school, play clothes afterwards, and a slightly dressier dress for services. The particular clothes worn clearly marked off segments of time. Nowadays, casual clothing (even pajama bottoms instead of slacks) appears to be the rule, or the desire, everywhere and all the time. This can be economical, but it also reinforces the regrettable tendency for time and corresponding identities to blur. In my opinion, special times and places, like Shabbat synagogue services, deserve special clothing.
Clergy can dress down after church votes to let them ditch vestments (excerpts)
Olivia Rudgard, religious affairs correspondent 10 JULY 2017 • 5:44PM
Clergy have been given the go-ahead to ditch their robes and dress down for services following a vote by the Church of England’s General Synod.
Priests should be allowed flexibility to wear what they want to make the church more accessible and relevant to the modern world, members said. This means that clergy are now officially allowed to lead services in casual clothing such as jeans and trainers (British for ‘sneakers’).
The changes would help the church by “reflecting the way society has gone in the way of informality”, said Leyland vicar Alistair McHaffie. He also pointed out that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, had led the charge by wearing unorthodox footwear to the York-based synod.
Mr McHaffie said: “Years ago the Archbishop of Canterbury would wear sensible black shoes at General Synod – and I’ve noticed this weekend our Archbishop is wearing a pair of blue trainers.” However the Archbishop protested that they were in fact “walking shoes”.
During a debate on the motion members said they had been concerned that the new freedoms could mean clergy were pressured into “foolishness”…But clauses which specified that clothing must be “suitable for a minister of the Church of England ministering divine service” had allayed concerns.
Two altar boys were arrested for putting weed in the censer-burner
(This looks like a machine translation from Spanish, but it’s reasonably intelligible.)
What started as a joke ended with the future of two altar boys from Spain. They were detained overnight, after having surprised them putting weed in the censer-burner of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
The censer-burner is used the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela to celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord. Several assistants stated that in this occasion the holy precinct was suddenly covered in an odd smell “it did not smell as always, it was a familiar smell but I could not relate it to anything, but in my son’s bedroom sometimes smell like that”.
Following the Mass, these altar boys were arrested by the police after confirming that the strange smell was correspond to marijuana, “it was a joke, the idea came during the Christmas Eve mass, we bought no more than half a kilo of weed and we drop it inside the censer-burner, we are sure that people has left of the Cathedral happier more than ever”. Finally, they were freed without charge but they will not be able to discharge their functions as altar boys any more.
Emor: Eternal Light (excerpt)
When non-Jewish groups come to visit our synagogue, they are usually quite impressed with the Ner Tamid (eternal light). They imagine a kind of worldwide Olympic torch relay, connecting Jewish synagogues everywhere. If one torch were to fail, all of Judaism would be threatened. Someone always asks anxiously, “What do you do if it goes out?’
And I always say, “We replace the bulb.”
And then everyone laughs with relief. Because holding in your hands the spiritual health of 13 million people would be a very big responsibility.