ANGELS IN THE TABERNACLE
by Stuart W.
This week's Torah portion discusses the vestments that the Kohanim (priests) wore while serving in the Mishkan (Tabernacle). The Talmud (Tractate Kiddushin 54a) relates that these garments had a special holiness.
This week's Torah portion discusses the vestments that the Kohanim (priests) wore while serving in the Mishkan (Tabernacle). The Talmud (Tractate Kiddushin 54a) relates that these garments had a special holiness. The Kohen (priest) was not allowed to wear them while involved in mundane activities, and if he inadvertently did, he had desecrated the garments and was obligated to bring a sacrificial offering for atonement. The Talmud poses a question: How did the Kohen remove his sacred garments upon completion of his service - the exact instant that he finished, he would already be involved in mundane activities when it is forbidden to wear the priestly vestments?
The Talmud answers that the Kohen is given a certain amount of leeway and is exempt from having to bring an offering, because "the Torah was not given to angels". Since it is physically impossible for the Kohen to remove the garments immediately after he has finished serving in them, he is not held accountable. However, the Talmud asserts, if the Kohen would purposely leave the garments on any longer than necessary, he would have desecrated the garments and would be obligated to bring an offering for atonement.
We can learn valuable lessons from this principle. We may occasionally feel overwhelmed by the many obligations which the Torah places upon us, but that shouldn't cause us to despair. We may find it difficult to wake up for synagogue every Shabbat morning at 8:30, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't go at all. We may not like all the members of our synagogue, but we shouldn't miss Torah classes just because the people we don't like will be there. We're certainly not angels, but we are human beings. We're not perfect, but we were created in Hashem's image and have the responsibility to live up to the vast potential that He set for each one of us.
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