Honorable Mensch-ion

The Spiritual Clothing of Our People

I am always struck by the uniform of the New York Yankees. Each player is identified by their number, but their last name is not written on the back.

The same is true with the storied Notre Dame football team. The reason: we play for the team name on the front of the jersey. There is a uniformity about being part of something greater then themselves.

Simply wearing those is being part of history. While last week, we learned how the mishkan is to be built, this week, we learn how the people should dress while working within this sacred space. The Talmud teaches that each particular piece of clothing warn by the kohnaim possessed special qualities that influenced the behavior of the wearer. Tiny ringing bells at the bottom of the coat reminded the priest not to speak gossip. Without the specific clothes to be worn, the kohnaim could not perform their specific function. Most importantly, the clothes were gifts, contributions of all the Jewish people. The priests were in essence dressed by the community.

As a Bar Mitzvah, I received my first tallit. Over the subsequent decades, I have become a tallit collector.

At 21-years-old, my grandfather gifted me the Atara, the bells on his tallit which is now sewn onto mine.

At Rabbinical school ordination, I was gifted a tallit to celebrate Jewish leadership.

At 35-years-old, my parents handed me the tallit of my brother, Eyal, of blessed memory, which I wore each day when I recited the kaddish.

At 40-years-old, with my children in Jerusalem, we bought tallitot to celebrate our first family trip to Israel.

We all wear the spiritual clothing of our people. Our Judaism begins in a book but permeates to our body, and eventually into our soul.

Take out your Jewish uniform. Tell your family where it came from, and tell them where you would like it to go.

Comments are closed.