What is the Connection between the Menorah and the Garments of the Kohen Gadol?
Taste of Talmud
In Tractate Menachos 25a, the Talmud teaches us about the purifying powers of the Tzitz (tiara) that the Kohain Gadol wore on his forehead. The Tzitz had engraved upon it the words, “Kodesh La’Hashem” (holy to G-d). In verse 28:38 of this week’s Parasha the Torah says that when the Kohain Gadol wore the Tzitz he would bring forgiveness for the sins of the sacrifices. The Talmud asks: For which sins was he able to bring forgiveness? The Talmud concludes that the Tzitz was able to purify a sacrifice that had inadvertently become tameh (ritually impure) by coming in contact with the carcass of an animal that is not pure. Rashi explains that, the sacrifice will then, be considered Kosher. Not only that but the owner who brought it will even be considered to have fulfilled his obligation. Rashi asks, “Where do we find a precedent for such an astounding law?” Where do we find that even after a sacrifice became tameh that the owner still fulfills his obligation? Rashi answers that we have a well known Talmudic dictum, “Tumah Hutrah Betzibur” (impurity is permitted in a congregation). Since we have this precedent, it is easier to understand how even when a sacrifice inadvertently became tameh, the Tzitz will purify it. However, we are left wondering, as to the logic of this. Is there any way to comprehend the laws of ritual purity and impurity? How does the wearing of a Tzitz by the Kohain Gadol rectify a sacrifice?
Taste of Halacha
The Torah teaches that when a person becomes impure he should immerse in pure waters and the impurity will leave him. How much water must he enter, to become pure? In the laws of Mikvaos we are told that he must enter waters that cover his entire body completely. The minimum size of the ritual bath must be 3 cubits, by 1 cubit, by 1 cubit. This size vessel holds 40 Seah, or approximately 200 gallons. Only fresh rain water that has not been transported in a vessel is kosher for this ritual bath. The Shach in the Laws of Mikvaos, 210:18:53, notes: Once you have a complete amount of pure water, “even if you connect to it all the waters of the world, they will not nullify them”. The pure waters will actually purify the non pure waters, thereby even allowing immersion in them. This is actually how our Mikvaos are set up. We do not actually enter into the original water but rather, into water that is connected via a pipe to them. The only halachic qualification to this tremendously refreshing thought is that the connection to the original pure waters has to be significant. In 210:52, the Shulchan Aruch specifies that this connection has to be the size of a “shefoferes hanod” (approximately the width of two fingers). This teaches us a very invigorating concept. Once you have a strong source of purity, it acts as a catalyst to extend purity to all of its surroundings. This is with one important caveat, the impure must properly connect with the source, only then, will it be purified.
Taste of Parasha
Why does the Parasha which discusses the making of the garments of the Kohain Gadol begin with the command to make pure oil for the Menorah? The Nesivos Shalom, the Rebbie of Slonim, answers: The Torah is telling us that the garments of the Kohain Gadol had something in common with the Menorah. The Menorah had the spiritual ability to illuminate all the Neshamos (souls) of the Jewish nation. The Chasidic masters teach us, that from its central location in the Mishkan it radiated the holy light of the or hagonuz (the first light, created during the days of creation). This purifying light was continuously strengthening and enlightening the neshamos of the Jewish nation. Likewise, by wearing the eight holy garments, the Kohain Gadol was able to broadcast a great spiritual energy that purified the bodies of the Jewish nation. We can now have a small measure of understanding as to how a sacrifice that was impure could be purified by the Tzitz of the Kohain Gadol. By bringing a sacrifice to the Temple the owner connected himself to a spiritual energy source that was able to over- ride the inadvertent impurity that came in contact with his sacrifice. When we are connected to a source of purity, it spreads its purity over us. It lifts us; it invigorates us and thereby purifies us. When we had the holy Bais Hamikdosh and the Kohain Gadol they were the source of purity and holiness for the entire Jewish nation. In our times, the Nesivos Shalom concludes, when we honor Shabbos by lighting its holy lights and wearing special clothes we become somewhat like the High Priest in the holy temple and radiate purity and holiness to all those around us.