Kenneth Cohen

Choshen Mishpat

The garments worn by the High Priest had great significance. Each of the eight garments, was meant to atone for different types of sins.

The headband known as the “Tzitz,” atoned for haughtiness. The special trousers, for sexual misconduct. The “Me’il,”the outer garment, for Lashon Hara, improper speech. The “Eiphod” another coat like garment, was to atone for the sin of the Golden Calf, and idol worship.

The most intriguing of all the garments was the “Choshen,” or breastplate. It is initially described only as חושן, but later described as חושן משפט. This object was connected with seeking justice. Rashi wrote it was to atone for the perversion of justice. The Malbim described it as the means of seeking Divine judgement for issues affecting the nation.

The Keli Yakar added that the Choshen was listed first because it is more important to fix קלקול הדין, the perversion of justice, than fixing idol worship.

It is also interesting to note that one of the four sections of the Shulchan Aruch, that deals with civil law, is called, Choshen Mishpat.

We see how important it is for our society to have proper judges. This is so important that our Rabbis have pointed out that two things prevent our Redemption.

The first is that the Eirav Rav, the mixed multitude, must repent. This refers to the self hating, back stabbing Jews, that hurt our people.

The second obstacle is that we must be able to see true justice in our country. This cannot come about when the State of Israel allows avowed atheists, to become judges here. This is absurd. When we are led by G-d fearing judges, we will overcome this second obstacle.

The Priestly garments carry with them important messages. If we learn from them, our Redemption is at hand!

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at