These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

[PCJE Dvar Torah] Spirit Dressing

Posted on February 6, 2014 by AdAm Mayer

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AdAmayGetting dressed in the morning is a necessary part of my day. It prepares me physically to go out into the world – If I did not have clothes, I would not be able to leave my room. It prepares me mentally and emotionally as well. I think, feel and behave differently when I dress for different occasions.

With Purim coming up I have been thinking about this as it relates to costumes. Most people find a costume, however silly, that they like and that expresses something hidden about them that they might not express otherwise. Mordechai, from the Megilla, gets dressed up for purim in his royal techelet robes, as we sing about in the Purim song:

“שושנת יעקב צהלה ושמחה בראותם יחד תכלת מרדכי. תשועתם הייתה לנצח ותקוותם בכל דור ודור”

Rose of Jacob, rejoice and be happy when you all see the blue robes of Mordechai. Their salvation is eternal and their hope lasts through generations.

t3ch3l3tr0b3The Esh Kodesh [Hassidic Master of Piaseczno, Poland] asks why happiness and rejoicing seem to come from seeing Mordechai’s techelet clothes, as opposed to seeing the salvation of God (techelet is sometimes understood as the color of redemption). Why focus on the sign when you can focus on the real thing? He explains that some experiences we can keep hidden inside, but when they are so great and overpowering they must be expressed somehow. He posits that expression of the most profound experiences expands beyond one’s actions and words and is also reflected in one’s clothes. Therefore when the Jews saw that Mordechai’s clothes were techelet, they knew that he had already experienced profound redemption, and therefore were happy and sure that they too would be redeemed.

Our Parasha spends a long time elaborating and describing the priests’ clothing. In light of the above, this would mean that the presence of God in the midst of the camp was so great that the priest cannot keep it hidden inside himself. It is expressed even in his clothes, and this awareness of God is reflected and shared with the entire people Israel and even with the whole world.