In this week’s Torah portion we learn about the special clothing the Cohens (Priests) and High Priest had to wear when serving in the Temple. The Torah tells us in detail which material each garment should be made out of and precisely how they should be made.
The Torah states “You shall make the garment for glory and splendor”. The simple meaning is that just as a minister serving a king must dress in an honorable fashion, so too, most of the priests who are serving G-d in the Temple dress in an honorable fashion.
The commentaries tell us an additional explanation of this verse. The Temple was a place where G-d’s glory and splendor rested. Therefore, the priests were commanded to wear these special clothes which would endow them with an extra degree of G-d’s glory and splendor, thereby making them fit for serving in the Temple.
The power of the priestly garments can be seen from the following story told in the Talmud. In the time of Alexander the Great, the Samaritans convinced him to destroy the holy Temple. When the High Priest “Shimon Hatzadik” heard about this, he dressed himself with the special garments the High Priest wears in the Temple, which is usually exclusive to the Temple. Accompanied by a few men, he walked towards Alexander, who was coming to destroy the Temple. When he reached Alexander and his troops, to everyone’s amazement, Alexander descended from his chariot and bowed down to Shimon Hatzadik. He later explained, that the reason he bowed down, was because, “When I go to battle, the image of this person appears before me and brings me victory”. Needless to say, he scrapped his plans of destroying the Temple.