23.5. Robe of the Ephod (28:31-35)

(31) You shall make the robe of the ephod of pure blue.

(32) The opening for the head shall be in the middle of it; the opening shall have a binding of woven work round about — it shall be like the opening of a coat of mail — so that it does not tear.

(33) On its hem make pomegranates of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, all around the hem, with bells of gold between them all around:

(34) a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, all around the hem of the robe.

(35) Aaron shall wear it while officiating, so that the sound of it is heard when he comes into the sanctuary before the Lord and when he goes out — that he may not die.

(31) You shall make the robe of the ephod of pure blue: The me’il is a long-sleeved tunic that is put on over the head, and reaches almost to the ground.

(33-35) On its hem make pomegranates … with bells of gold … Aaron shall wear it while officiating, so that the sound of it is heard when he comes into the sanctuary before the Lord: The me’il was meant to correct for the sin of leshon hara (speaking ill of others). The ringing of its bells was a reminder that the things we say spread far and wide, and that we must therefore exercise great care in using our power of speech.

(32) The opening for the head shall be in the middle of it; the opening shall have a binding of woven work round about — it shall be like the opening of a coat of mail — so that it does not tear: The “opening for the head” is here called pi ha-me’il, literally, “the mouth of the robe.” This further emphasizes the connection to the sin of leshon hara. Like the robe, we must keep a tight “binding” around our own mouths by strictly monitoring our speech.

The obligation to correct improper (“evil”) speech applies to all people, but it is far more important for prominent individuals, whose unworthy words can do incomparably more harm than the evil words of the rank and file. This is why the me’il is one of the garments of the High Priest, not the ordinary kohanim (priests).

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Bible Dynamics, VOL. 2. EXODUS Copyright © by Orot Yerushalaim / P. Polonsky / English translation of the Torah by the Jewish Publication Society, New JPS Translation, 1985. With sincere gratitude for the permission to use. All Rights Reserved.

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