This week’s Middat HaShavuah, taken from this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Tetzaveh, instructs us to wear special items to help create holiness.

Parshah: תְּצַוֶּה 

Key Verse: וְעָשִׂיתָ בִגְדֵי-קֹדֶשׁ  

שמות כח:ב 

Middah: Wear special items to help create holiness

Parshat Tetzaveh is interesting for several reasons. For one, it is the only Torah portion from the time we are introduced to Moshe at the beginning of Sefer Shemot until the end of Sefer D’varim that Moshe’s name is not mentioned even once! There is a lot to unpack from this fact. One takeaway is that this Torah portion focuses on Aaron and his sons, and the importance of the Cohanim and their duties and responsibilities. Perhaps the reason that Moshe’s name isn’t mentioned shows us yet again Moshe’s humility. He wished for the attention for this one Torah portion to shift away from himself to his brother Aaron and his sons.

Regarding the Cohanim and their duties and responsibilities, this Torah portion begins by going into great detail about the Cohen Gadol and his garments. As our Middah points out, we wear special items to help create holiness. The Cohen Gadol had seven garments especially made for him to help create holiness. So too with us today; whether it is a Kippah, Tallit, Tzitzit, etc., there are certain items of clothing that we wear that help us create holiness in our lives.

But, with that said, let us keep in mind that Judaism isn’t only about holy things. A Kippah, for example, isn’t holy in and of itself; it helps us to create holiness in our lives by acting as a constant reminder that HaShem is near to us and accessible. Yet, we still need to keep a barrier between ourselves and HaShem. When we make a bracha over bread, it does not change the status of the bread from something profane to something sacred. There is no such thing as sacred bread in Judaism. When we say HaMotzi it is supposed to spark something in us that will help us elevate and take the act of eating from something mundane to something holy.

So, if Judaism isn’t only about holy things, then what else is holiness in Judaism? We have items in the physical world that help us create holiness, be they clothes, or otherwise, but what else does Judaism really have to say about holiness? Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said it best when he said:

“The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments.”

In other words, Heschel was saying that Judaism isn’t only about holy things; Judaism is also about holiness in time.

As we prepare ourselves for this Shabbat, let us remember that there are many items in the physical world which help us create holiness in our lives. But, at the same time, let us celebrate the holiness of time, of sacred moments like Shabbat, and take the necessary time to reflect on all that is truly holy in our lives, both in the physical and in the spiritual world.

Shabbat Shalom U’Mevorach,

Moreh Alan