Kenneth Cohen

Priestly Garments and Temple Vessels

There are three instances where we see how foreign kings were impressed by the Temple vessels, and the priestly garments.

The Keli Yakar mentions that Belshazar, the father of Queen Vashti, used Temple vessels at a feast, and was punished. He hoped he could neutralize their holiness by using them. He was succeeded by Achashveirosh.

The famous feast prepared by Achashveirosh was made to celebrate the non-fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy. The foolish King of Shushan, miscalculated the seventy years that were to pass between the first and second Temple.

At this great feast, Temple vessels were used. The Keli Yakar added that Achashveirosh even wore the eight garments of the Kohein Hagadol, thinking that it would give him protection. There was a clear obsession of these foreign kings to the Temple vessels and the priestly garments.

This obsession peaked with the famous meeting between Alexander the Great and Shimon Hatzzadik. Alexander dreamt that he would meet the High Priest of Israel, wearing the eight holy garments.

When this dream came true, Alexander promised Shimon Hatzzadik that he would not harm the Jewish people. He would always remain respectful to the children of Abraham. This explains why Jews still commonly use the name Alexander or Alexandra until today.

It is also rather obvious how other religions have copied some of the Temple practices. All that was done in the Temple was based on biblical commandments. The architects of the Mishkan, Betzalel and Ohaliav were Divinely inspired. The Temple of Shlomo, had the wisdom of Shlomo.

This probably explains why the other religions needed to “borrow” our ideas. They never could have come up with this on their own. (Even the Pope wears a Kippa!)

Even though we have been without a Temple for nearly 2000 years, its influence remains until today. The inevitable is coming when the Temple will function again and the vessels and Priestly garments will be used. No king in the world will be able to prevent this.

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