Fit To Serve
"Moshe brought the sons of Aharon forward, he dressed them in tunics and
girdled [each of] them with a belt and wrapped the turbans upon them..."
Parshas Tzav details the seven day inaugural process prescribed for Aharon
and his sons prior to their serving in the Mishkan. Moshe proceeds to bathe
them in a mikveh and dress them in the Priestly vestments. The verse
describes Moshe dressing them in "kutonos" - "tunics", girding them with
their "avneit" - "belt" and wrapping their "migbaos" - "turbans" around
their heads. The "kutonos" and "migbaos" are recorded in the plural form.
However, the "avneit" is listed in singular form. What prompts the Torah to
make this distinction?
The Rambam records that the turban was sixteen amos long (between
twenty-four and thirty-two feet). The belt was thirty-two amos long and was
wrapped around the Kohein.1 Why does the Rambam not mention that the turban
was also wrapped around the Kohein?
The Rambam is teaching us that it was necessary for the belt to be wrapped
around the Kohein each time he put it on. However, it was required to wrap
the turban only the first time, and once it fit the Kohein, he would
continue to wear it without unwrapping and re-wrapping it. Therefore, the
Rambam records the act of wrapping with the belt and not with the turban.
Since the belt was wrapped each time, it was transferable from Kohein to
Kohein, whereas the turban had to be fit to the head of the individual for
whom it was first wrapped and could not be transferred from one Kohein to
another. What is the Rambam's source for this ruling?
When the Torah records the donning of the kutonos and migbaos, these
garments are listed in the plural form for they had to be tailor-made to fit
each individual Kohein. By switching to the singular form for the avneit the
Torah is revealing to us that it was not necessary to have a special avneit
for each outfit, for it was transferable; each Kohein could wrap the
thirty-two amah avneit to accommodate his girth. Whereas each Kohein needed
his own tunic and turban, in theory only one avneit had to be made. The
Rambam deduced that the reason the turban was not transferable was that it
had to be permanently wrapped the first time worn, tailor-made to
accommodate its wearer.
1.Yad Hil. Klei Mikdosh 8:19
The Jewish Problem
Come, let us deal wisely with them..." (1:10).
The Torah relates that the Mitzrim were afraid that Bnei Yisroel were
becoming too numerous. Looming over their heads was the possibility that in
the case of a war Bnei Yisroel would join forces with the enemy and drive
the Mitzrim out of their land. Pharaoh and his advisors devised a course of
action to prevent their worst fears from materializing.
The Ba'al Haggada states "vayarei'u osanu hamitzrim" - "the Mitzrim dealt
with us in a malevolent manner", as it is recorded in the Torah "havah
nischakmah lo" - "come let us deal wisely with them". Why is Pharaoh's
strategizing as to how to deal with a perceived threat viewed as a malicious
act against Bnei Yisroel? His solution and the manner in which his orders
were executed should be cited as examples of his evil behavior, not his
desire to protect his nation's security.
In contemporary society we search continuously for methods by which we can
categorize different conditions and behaviors. By identifying and labeling a
problem we gain a certain confidence that the problem can be corrected.
Unfortunately, often in our haste to identify a situation which we are
having difficulty controlling, we mislabel a condition and create a problem
where no problem exists. Particularly when dealing with children, care must
be taken to ensure that we, as parents and educators, do not label our
children as "problems". Even when the correct diagnosis has been made, we
must proceed with caution to ensure that we do not transform a child with a
problem into a "problem child". The grossest injustice that can be done to a
person is to label him as a problem. The damage caused to a child's
self-esteem due to the manner in which he is perceived by others and
consequently comes to view himself, can be irreparable.
Whereas the harm which Bnei Yisroel suffered at the hands of the Mitzrim
lasted only for the duration of time they spent in servitude and affected
only those who were present, the perception created by Pharaoh that Jews are
a public menace still haunts us today. The ultimate act of evil perpetrated
against Bnei Yisroel by Pharaoh was labeling them as "the Jewish Problem".