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The Torah In Haiku: T'tzaveh

The Torah In Haiku: T'tzaveh

The priests wear shatnez 
Wool and linen together
For us? A no, no 

Exodus 28:6: Make the ephod out of gold [thread], sky-blue, dark red and crimson wool, together with twined linen, in a patterned brocade. 

Deuteronomy 22:11: You shall not wear a garment of different sorts, like wool and linen together

I checked with "Rabbi Google" for some insight into a possible reason for this difference between the rules for the priests and the rules for the rest of us. After being reminded about the passage in last week's portion explaining that the curtains in the Tabernacle were also to be made of wool and linen, I started reading some of what the web had to offer as regards this apparent inconsistency in Torah.

One writer made a connection to the offerings of Cain and Abel, attributing to the priests the ability to change a sin like Cain's (whose offering was flax seed - a source for linen) into a mitzvah like Abel's (who offered wool) Another suggested that "only the sanctified people and spaces are holy enough to be draped in [shatnez]".

Not wearing shatnez is classified as one of the "chukim" - a commandment for which there does not appear to be a logical explanation. It's inevitable that if we try to find a reason for the different rules discussed above, we end up trying to find a logical explanation for a commandment that is supposed to defy reason. In fact, the "Libertarian Jew" used both of the rationales linked above in his attempt to find logic behind the prohibition against shatnez.

I wondered if, since we can violate the prohibition against cross-dressing when choosing costumes for Purim, can we also wear shatnez on this most joyous of holidays? At least one writer says yes, based on the idea that "dressing up in costume [is] an act of display rather than an act of donning clothing."

Ed Nickow is a teacher and member of the Board of Trustees at Temple Chai, Long Grove, IL. This post is from his blog The Torah in Haiku

Photo by Dan Iggers via Flickr

Published: 2/22/2013

Categories: Learning, Torah Study
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