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Parshat Tetzaveh: You Are Holy to Hashem

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How you view yourself affects how you live with yourself. People who view themselves through the prism of self-love and self-confidence live in a way that expresses that. People who view themselves through the prism of self-loathing and insecurity will express that. Anecdotally, we can all point to people in our lives who align with such an idea. What we can thereby suggest is that if we can reframe, reshape, and revise how we view ourselves, we can revolutionize our lives. In Parshat Tetzaveh, the Torah gives us a way to do so.

The parsha begins detailing how the Kohen Gadol should dress — breaking down the attire to every article of clothing. A robe, vestments, a fringed tunic, and the like are broken down to their form, material, and design. The Kohen Gadol works in the highest plane of Divine service, working in the most intimate parts of the Mishkan and Beit HaMikdash. There is one part of their dress that particularly stands out among the rest — the band across its forehead.

Hashem says, “You shall make a frontlet of pure gold and engrave on it the seal inscription: ‘Holy to Hashem’” (Shemot 28:36). Abaye notes in Masechet Shabbat 63b that this article was a band of gold that wrapped around the kohen’s head “from ear to ear.” Immediately, the writing upon the band sounds extraordinary. “Holy to Hashem” — kadosh l’Hashem — is branded across the Kohen Gadol’s forehead. According to HaKtav VeHaKabbalah, this headgear ensured that he would not be distracted by anything else in the world because the name of God was, literally, upon his head. This understanding attributes its purpose to the Kohen Gadol himself, but according to others, there’s more to be considered.

Rashbam takes an alternative route, considering this band in terms of others. He says that the band, with “Holy to Hashem” donned across it, was placed there so that everyone would see it when interacting with the Kohen Gadol; when a person would see the Kohen Gadol, whether from afar or through conversation, the words “Holy to Hashem” would stare back at them. In Likutei Moharan, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov writes about what happens during that experience: “Automatically, when a person with such an eye looks at something of the world, the sparks certainly ascend. This is as it is written, “You shall make a tzitz of pure gold.” Tzitz connotes looking” (92:4).

In one of her shiurim on the parsha, Nili Salem spoke about the impact of this very idea. For someone to approach the Kohen Gadol, perhaps dejected or hopeless, they can find a sense of renewal. It is only fitting that the Kohen Gadol who is of the highest stature in the “ladder” of Divine devotion holds the power to restore hope within others. This aligns with the earlier idea that how we consider ourselves affects how we live with ourselves. Thus, when we speak to the individual closest in service to Hashem, we remember that we, too, are close to Hashem.

Imagine that every time you saw the Kohen Gadol, you would be implicitly told “You are holy to Hashem.” You, in all your insecurities, flaws, and problems, are of infinite significance to the Divine. Sitting and meditating on this idea proves it to be extraordinary. I am a part of Hashem, I am holy to Hashem, and I am good enough for Hashem. The possibilities are endless when you’re working with the Endless One. When we imbue within ourselves the truth of our worth, that we are individually holy to Hashem, we will watch our lives transform before our eyes.

About the Author
Sruli Fruchter is a senior at Yeshiva University studying International and Global Affairs. He is passionate about Torah, self-growth, and bringing Hashem into every aspect of our lives. Sruli has vast experience in international relations, is the Editor in Chief of The Commentator, and the Host of the Soul Life Podcast, which can be found on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
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