This week’s parashah gives a detailed description of the Kohanim’s garments. Each garment with its deep symbolic significance must also be exquisite and splendid in appearance. “You shall make garments of holiness for Aharon your brother for glory and for splendor” (Shemot 28:2). Rabbi S.R. Hirsch explains that whereas the word glory expresses the spiritual and ethical virtue of the Kehunah, the word splendor adds the element of beauty. Thus, it is clear that according to the Torah a dignified outward appearance goes hand in hand with inner spiritual attainment.
Must We Be Well Dressed?
In his description of the Woman of Valor, King Shlomo, likewise, highlights the importance of being well dressed: “Luxurious bedspreads she made herself, fine linen (shes) and purple (argaman) are her clothing” (Mishlei 31:22). It is interesting to note that fine linen and purple (shes v’argaman) are the same materials used for the garments of the Kohanim: “They shall take the gold, and the blue purple, and the red purple, (argaman) and the crimson, and the fine linen (shes)” (Shemot 28:5). Thus, our comparison between the Woman of Valor and the Kohen Gadol from Parashat Terumah (on page 69) can be extended to comprise not only her home and work, but her clothing as well. This is, moreover, alluded to in the verse which reads, “She seeks wool and linen” (Mishlei 31:13), since only the Kohen Gadol is permitted to wear a mixture of these materials. (The garments of the Kohen Gadol are excempted from the prohibition to wear a mixture of wool and linen called shatnes). Just as the Kohanim are commanded to dress “for glory and for splendor,” it is not becoming for a woman to neglect herself like a self-sacrificing shemata (doormat) dressed in shapeless hand-me-downs. The woman of valor understands the importance of dressing in a dignified manner.