Parshas Tzav/Pesach – Tinted Windows

By BJLife/Ori Strum

Posted on 03/25/21

Parshas HaShavua Divrei Torah sponsored by
Dr. Shapsy Tajerstein, DPM - Podiatry Care.
(410) 788-6633

Driving a car on Shabbos is not recommended, to say the least. But, if we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that cars have been very helpful for us – the Jewish people – on the holy Shabbos. Let me explain. Since the advent of tinted windows (in 1966, by the company 3M), parked cars have become a beacon for a Jewish man’s shul appearance. When you walk to shul on Shabbos, and you casually slow down as you pass each and every parked car, just admit that you were not looking through the window to see if the owner left coffee in the cupholder; but rather, you were looking at the window to see your reflection; to fix your hair, to adjust your tie, and to check out your newly tailored suit! You wanted to make sure you looked your best! But why? Who do humans want to look good? Of course, some want to look good for egotistical reasons. However, there is a deeper reason, perhaps, why humans have the tendency to want to look good.

Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders coined the phrase, “If you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you play good.” It is human nature to want to look our best because deep down we know it will enable us to act our best.  

Parshas Tzav begins with the discussion of the very first service of the day that took place in the Beis Hamikdash: תרומת הדשן – the Kohen would scoop up a shovelful from the innermost ashes on the Altar and place it on the floor of the Courtyard, east of the ramp. These ashes were taken from the burnt flesh of the previous day’s korbanos. Then, the Torah says (6:4): וּפָשַׁט אֶת בְּגָדָיו וְלָבַשׁ בְּגָדִים אֲחֵרִים – “And the Kohen shall remove his garments and put on other garments.” This verse is discussing a different service. When a lot of ash would accumulate on the Altar and the Kohen would need to remove it, he would change from his regular garments into other garments so as not to dirty them.

We learn from here an insight into proper etiquette (Talmud Shabbos 114a, see also Rashi to our verse): בְּגָדִים שֶׁבִּישֵּׁל בָּהֶן קְדֵירָה לְרַבּוֹ — אַל יִמְזוֹג בָּהֶן כּוֹס לְרַבּוֹ – “The clothes in which one prepared food for his master, one does not wear to pour his master wine.” In other words, it is unseemly to wear the same clothing in the kitchen that one would wear when pouring wine for his master. Maharsha (Chiddushei Addados, Shabbos 114a) learns from here that after performing all the tedious chores of erev Shabbos, it is important to change into our best clothes for the sake of Shabbos.

The Kohanim would serve in the Beis Hamkidash and act as agents on behalf of the Jewish people. How were they able to bring themselves to this level of recognition and confidence to truly represent all of the people? This is one of the reasons why the Kohanim were required to wear the bigdei kehuna. From a psychological perspective, wearing these holy and prestigious garments would enable them to truly hold themselves up high and feel confident in representing the Jewish people.

On the night of Pesach, we are meant to look our best, both physically and spiritually. We dress in our nicest clothing, eat on our nicest plates, drink our nicest wines, and recite our nicest Divrei Torah. Many men have the custom to wear a white kittel, representing the purity and freedom of the night. When we look our best, we tend to act our best. When we do things on the outside that resemble freedom, we will actually feel that freedom. So many of the customs of leil haseder are outward physical projections in order to unleash our inner reflections. This Pesach, may we feel and act as good as we look.

Have a happy and holy Shabbos and Pesach!