Pearls of Rashi – Tetzaveh

In this week’s Torah portion, Tetzaveh, Hashem commands us to make eight garments for the High Priest, called the Kohen Gadol. He had to wear these while performing his service in the sanctuary.

Among these garments was included a tunic. The Torah tells us (Shemos 28:33) that “on its bottom hem you shall make pomegranates of blue, purple, and crimson wool, on its bottom hem all around, and golden bells in their midst all around.” What does the Torah mean by saying that the golden bells had to be “in their midst all around?” Rashi explains that the bells were to be “between them (the pomegranates) all around. This means that between two pomegranates, one bell was attached and suspended on the bottom hem of the robe.”

The Ramban is bothered by Rashi’s explanation. He asks that “this being the case, what was the purpose of the pomegranates? If their purpose was beauty, why use hollow pomegranates? Golden apples would have been more appropriate.” Based on this he concludes that the meaning of the bells being in their midst was that “the bells were hidden within the pomegranates.”

We see that Rashi and the Ramban disagree regarding what form the pomegranates should have if their purpose was beauty. According to Rashi, they would be hollow pomegranates; according to the Ramban they would be golden apples. There is obviously more to this than meets the eye. As is the case with everything in Torah, this should provide us with a lesson in our service of Hashem.

The Kohen Gadol performed his service in the Temple on behalf of all Jews. He was the emissary of the entire Jewish Nation. His eight vestments, and all of their parts, alluded to the various categories of Jews. The bottom hem of his tunic was symbolic of the simplest of Jews; a Jew who is seemingly empty of Torah and Mitzvos. Rashi explains that even one who appears to be empty is as full of Mitzvos as a pomegranate is full of seeds. Therefore he explains that the beauty of the bottom hem of the tunic is expressed through pomegranates.

The Ramban, on the other hand, is of the opinion that those who seem to be empty, are in truth “golden apples” through and through. They are filled with the service of Hashem.

May we all learn to view each other, even those who appear to us as if they are empty, as they are in G-d’s eyes. Each one is indeed solid gold, filled with goodness and kindness.

Wishing one and all a great Shabbos and a very happy Purim!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

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