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Rambam - Sefer HaMitzvos
As Divided for The Daily Learning Schedule

Positive Mitzvah 33;
Negative Mitzvot 88, 87, 73, 163, 164

  Day 152Day 154  

Positive Mitzvah 33: The Priestly Garments
Exodus 28:2 "And you shall make holy clothes for Aaron your brother, for honor and for beauty"

An employee's uniform is designed to suit his place of work.

The guards at Buckingham Palace wear an outfit much different from a guard at city hall.

We are commanded to make the priests' clothes beautiful and dignified, reflecting the glory of the Beit HaMikdash in which they work. The priest must wear these clothes while performing the service.

Negative Mitzvah 88: It is forbidden to tear the edge of the High Priest's robe
Exodus 28:32 "It shall have a binding of woven work around the hole, as if it were a hole of a suit of armor, that it be not torn"

The robe which the High Priest wore was made out of delicate sky-blue wool. It had an opening for the neck that was sewn around the edges. We are cautioned not to rip or tear this hole.

Negative Mitzvah 87: It is forbidden to detach the Breast-plate from the Ephod
Exodus 28:28 "That the Breast-plate be not loosed from the Ephod"

The Breast-plate, or "Cho-shen", is one of the most beautiful parts of the High Priest's clothes. It was woven with threads of gold, colored wool and braided linen.

It was inlaid with four rows of precious stones, such as emeralds and sapphires, that were placed within gold settings.

On each one of the stones, a name of one of the twelve tribes was engraved.

The Breast-plate was attached to the "Ephod", the apron that the High Priest wore. On its corners were rings. Sky-blue twisted threads of wool were laced through the rings and tied to the apron, holding the Breast-plate firmly in place.

We are prohibited from detaching the Breast-plate from the Ephod.

Negative Mitzvah 73: It is forbidden to enter the Sanctuary or give a Halachic decision after drinking wine
Leviticus 10:8-11 "Do not drink wine or strong drink...when you enter the Tent of Meeting...and when you teach the children of Israel"

When a person drinks too much wine, it may cause him to think in an unclear manner. He may act silly and make incorrect decisions.

While in the Beit HaMikdash, we must conduct ourselves in a respectful and dignified manner.

It is forbidden to enter the Beit HaMikdash after having drunk wine or any other alcoholic beverage.

The same applies to a Rabbi making a decision about Torah Law.

He must be able to think very clearly and may not make such a decision after drinking wine.

Introduction to Mitzvot 163 - 165:

The Sanctity of the Beit HaMikdash
Laws Concerning the Conduct of the Priest
while serving in the Beit HaMikdash

One summer, Izzy's father went on a business trip to Washington and took Izzy with him.

During the mornings, Izzy stayed in the hotel while his father attended business meetings.

Afterwards, during the afternoons, Izzy and his father went sight-seeing all over the city.

They toured the National Library and some museums.

They took a tour of the Congress, where they walked through long, quiet corridors, catching glimpses of large, beautiful offices.

Izzy was impressed with the sights but couldn't help noticing the many signs that constantly reminded the tourists that they were on official government grounds.

"Officers Only"; "Uniform required"; "No children allowed"; "No Smoking"; "No Lingering In The Hallways"; "Quiet!"; and many more.

"Hey Daddy," Izzy said as they drove back to the hotel. "That place was nice, but I was almost afraid to breathe!"

"Well," laughed his father, "I'm sure breathing is allowed, but you are right about one thing. It is very formal. It has to be. Many important decisions are made in Congress that affect all of us. There have to be rules and regulations to ensure that people conduct themselves respectfully in a place of such importance."

The Beit HaMikdash is the holiest and most important place in the world!

Many sacred services are accomplished there, creating a bond between the Jewish people and HaShem. The closer we are to HaShem and the more we fulfill His Mitzvot, the more blessings He grants us.

It should not be surprising that we must regard the Beit HaMikdash in a holy and respectful manner.

The Torah has given the priests special laws which ensure that they conduct themselves in the proper way, as befitting the Beit HaMikdash.

Negative Mitzvot 163 - 165 list several rules that the priests must follow while serving in the Beit HaMikdash.

Negative Mitzvah 163: The Priests are forbidden to enter the Sanctuary with long and unruly hair
Leviticus 10:6 "Do not let the hair of your heads grow long"

The priests are forbidden to enter the Beit HaMikdash if their hair is long and unruly.

Negative Mitzvah 164: The Priests are forbidden to enter the Sanctuary wearing torn clothes
Leviticus 10:6 "Neither rend your clothes"

The priests are given magnificent clothing which they must wear while serving in the Beit HaMikdash.

The Torah describes these clothes and explains in detail how they are designed and sewn (See positive Mitzvah 33).

The priests must be careful that their clothes are well kept and elegant as befitting their work in the Beit HaMikdash.

They are forbidden to enter the Beit HaMikdash if their clothes are torn and shabby.

In addition, the act of rending (tearing) one's clothes is a symbol of mourning.

When a close relative passes away, we make a tear in our clothes to show that we are in mourning. If the priest has such a tear in his clothes for reasons of mourning, he cannot enter the Beit HaMikdash.

To return takes but a moment. One moment a being is at an ultimate distance from his G-d and from his true self, the next he is in complete union. The power to return is beyond time.

From: Bringing Heaven Down to Earth by Tzvi Freeman -

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