In this week's Torah portion, Tetzaveh, we read elaborate descriptions of the garments made for Aaron and his sons when they took on the priesthood. In my d'var this week at Radical Torah, I draw connections between the purpose of Aaron's holy vestments and the purpose of the tallitot we wear in worship today:
Without my tallit, I'm more easily distracted in prayer. And if the little sounds and sights of my shul can tug my attention away from the Holy Blessed One, how much more so might the bellowing of yearlings or the thick odor of incense have distracted Aaron? Wearing something special, a consecrated garment or family heirloom tallit, doesn't guarantee perfect kavvanah (focus/mindfulness) -- but it's a good step in that direction. We're human; we're flawed; we forget. Aaron's fancy vestments, so lovingly described in this week's portion, reminded him of what mattered -- just as our tallesim remind us, today.
Read the whole thing here: Holy garments.
Edited to add: If you're looking for excellent commentary on this week's portion, I recommend Parashat Tetzaveh: Jewels and Seeds by alto artist, which is simultaneously a smart d'var Torah and a beautiful essay. I'm also fond of Rabbi Judith Abrams' short piece A Seriously Beautiful Phrase. I'll be using both of those in our Torah discussion at shul this Shabbat...