Acharei Mot – May 6, 2016

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Torah Message:

Out on a Limb

“He shall don a sacred linen Tunic; linen breeches shall be upon his flesh…” (16:4)

The Talmud (Sanhedrin 49b) states that the first garment that the kohen puts on when he begins the Divine service is the breeches. It learns this from the phrase “upon his flesh” in the above verse. For the breeches to be “upon his flesh” it must mean that they are the first garment to be put on.

Which begs the question: Why then didn’t the verse list the breeches before the sacred linen Tunic?

The answer lies in the description of the linen Tunic as “sacred.” All the vestments of the kohen were holy; why then is the Tunic singled out specifically as “sacred?”

In the service of the Beit Hamikdash the kohen used his whole body — his thighs, his legs, his shoulders, his arms, and his torso. The service of the Beit Hamikdash sanctified those limbs that performed the avoda service, and the limbs in turn sanctified the clothes that covered them.

The holiness of the Tunic is because it covered the kohen’s whole body, whereas the breeches covered only the lower half of the body, and thus fewer limbs, and, consequently, had relatively less sanctity.

Similarly, a Sefer Torah has more sanctity than tefillin, and tefillin more than amezuzah. This is because there are more words of Torah in a Sefer Torah than intefillin and more in tefillin than in a mezuza; the more words of holiness, the more these words sanctify the physical vessel that contains them.

  • Source: Ha’amek Davar