It’s that time again… it’s my older brother’s Bar Mitzvah Parasha, ten years later! It’s also my oldest brother’s Aufruf this Shabbos, which basically means that we get to throw candy at him in shul after he gets called up to the Torah!
This week’s parasha talks in great detail about many different aspects and vessels of the Mishkan/Tabernacle, starting with the anointing oil and the garments of the Kohanim, the priests. The Kohanim wear special clothing specific for working in the Mishkan, and the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, wears additional clothing particular to him and his responsibilities. The Kohen Gadol‘s garments include the Eiphod/apron, the Choshen/breastplate, the Me’il/robe, the Tzitz/headplate with Hashem’s Name on it, and the Mitznefes, a special hat. In addition to his special garments, the Kohen Gadol also wears the clothing of the regular Kohanim: the Kesones/tunic, the Avneit/belt, and Michnasayim/pants. The regular Kohanim also wear the Migba’as, which is the kohen type of hat!
The parasha continues to describe the ritual process that initiates the Kohanim into to service in the Mishkan, followed by the guidelines for the Tamid offering, which is brought twice daily. The last item discussed in this parasha is the altar for Ketores, incense, which is in the Holy, the large sanctuary in the Mishkan.
Why does the Torah spend a whole parasha here in Sefer Shemos talking about the Kohanim? You might not have known, but actually the whole next book in the Torah, Sefer Vayikra, is called “Toras Kohanim” because it’s all about the Kohanim. So why do we need to learn so much about them now?
I think that the importance that Hashem attaches to the Kohanim, His priests, can be compared to that of every Jewish son and daughter… especially us daughters. Like the Kohanim, who have a mission of safeguarding the Mishkan, ensuring that all of the service is done properly, and that no impurity is allowed to penetrate the House of Hashem, we the women of the Jewish people also have a unique role.
For generations, the mother of the Jewish home has determined what she will allow in, what influences will enter her children’s world. She chooses the songs they’re exposed to, the friends they play with, and the forms of entertainment that they experience. In short, the Jewish mother is responsible to make sure that her chlidren’s Jewish identity stays intact!
The kinds of influences that you choose to let shape and mold you as you make your way from childhood to young adulthood in a very real way shape you – and your children after you.
What’s so important about the Kohanim? They’re the ones safeguarding the soul of the Jewish people – having Hashem’s Presence in our midst.
How do you safeguard your Jewish identity?
Listening to jewishmusicstream.com at the moment. My favorite song of the night was from Yaakov Shwekey’s new album Kolot.