Clothing Makes the Man

Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Parshas Tetzaveh

On Seventh Ave. they say “clothing makes the man”. We usually say, “how vain, how artificial, how exterior can you get?” What difference does it make what clothing a person wears? It’s what’s inside that counts. We reject the multi-billion dollar industry that has its roots in the French Riviera as the antithesis of substance and virtue.

Then in this weeks portion the Torah talks to us about clothing. The Kohein who does not wear the correct garment is out, he can’t serve. His hat must be just so or else he can’t enter the holy spot. And the Torah gives a reason, the clothing must be LeKovod Uletiferes. For honor and for beauty. Now we must not only deal with the value of clothing but the virtue itself of honor and beauty doesn’t fit in.

There are people in this world that have a tremendous exterior, they really look the part. But after a deeper probe we come out empty. There is nothing there, it is all exterior. There are others that don’t have any exterior; they make a negative impression. But if you get to know these people it’s unbelievable what you may find.

Ideally our insides and outsides must match. There should be no dichotomy between our inside and our outside.

Reb Meir learned that in Shomayim everything is upside down. People that are very big in this world are very small in the world to come and visa versa. He inquired as to his own status in the Heavens and was told that it was exactly the same as in this world. In the world of exterior and in the world of interior Reb Meir was the same, because his inside and outside were in perfect alignment.

The Meggila is a perfect example. At the beginning of the story, Haman who is a nothing has all the trappings of a great leader. His horse, his clothing the company he kept all made his observers tremble at his sight. He even wore the signet of the king. Mordechei, a truly great man, was downtrodden. He sat in the street and wore sackcloth. We tend to say that on Purim G-d turned everything upside down. I think the opposite is true, everything was upside down, G-d turned everything right side up. Mordechei was dressed in royal clothing and led thru the streets on a royal horse while Haman hung from the gallows, like an animal. G-d is the great equalizer. The great became great and the losers lost.

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