Clothing Make a Man

Parshas Tzav

Every morning one Cohen would have the privilege of removing some of the burnt out ash from the Mizbach. He would descend carrying a pan of ash and deposit it at the base of the Altar. The remainding ash was swept into a pile. When too much had accumulated another task was implemented to remove allthe ash. The Cohen would “don other garments” meaning he would wear inferior garments to the ones used for other services, and take the ashes outside the city. Why were inferior garments required?

Rashi explains with a pithy cliché “The clothes a servant uses to cook for his master, should not be worn when pouring him a glass of wine”.


This seems to contradict another Talmudic truism regarding the Beis Hamikdash. “There is no expression of poverty, where there is abundance” meaning, no expense was spared in the service of the Beis Hamikdash, all processes were run in a most affluent manner. This being the case why was it necessary to have the Cohen who removes the ash wear lower grade clothing. Since there were no shortage of funds, the Cohen could have two sets of high-grade clothing, and regular good-quality apparel could be donned for this Avodah,?


The issue of changing to lower grade apparel has no connection to finance. There is no shortage of funds to provide extra good-quality clothing. The different nature of the garments was because of us – the people. We have to perceive differences in the services. We need to view the offering of the sacrifices as “decanting wine for the Master”, and we likewise should conceive the removal of the ashes in the same light as cooking on an open fire. If the same clothes would be worn for all types of Avodah we would be less sensitive to their different properties.


Words and actions are valued not only by how they are received, but also by the perception of the presenter. For example, we feel different giving a guest a meal on china as opposed to a plastic plate.


Yissocher from the city of Barkai, rose through the ranks to become the High Priest. When he would work in the Beis Hamikdash he would wear gloves; he was fastidious and wanted to avoid touching the meat and blood of the sacrifices.

One day the King and Queen from the Hasmonean House were debating eachother. The king said “Young goat meat is tastier than lamb” while the Queen opposed believing that lamb was the more tastier of the two. “Lets call Yissocher a man of Barkai” they said, “He is the high priest, and therefore an expert in this issue, for every day his offering sacrifices in the Temple”.

Yissocher was brought before them and asked to render his opinion. With a dismissive gesture he adjudicated “of course lamb is tastier, the Torah commanded everyday to bring two lambs and not two goats for the Korban Tomid”.

The King was enraged at the hand motion, for it demonstrated his disrespect for the King’s point of view. Said the king “Not only did you disagree with me, but you even callously waved me away with your hand” He decreed Yissocher’s right hand to be cut off in retribution. Yissocher bribed the officers to sever his left hand instead. When the king heard about this, he became angry and said they should also cut off his right hand.

Says Reb Yosef in the Talmud, Yissocher was fortunate to receive from Heaven a fitting punishment in this world, he was disrespectful to Hashem’s korbonos therefore measure for measure, his hand was severed.

Weekly Halachah

Shabbos clothes should be worn until after Havdalah.

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