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Spiritual Life - can the clothes make the man?

Rabbi Alex Chapper Rabbi Alex Chapper

Sunday, February 16, 2014
3:00 PM

The saying goes “Clothes don’t make the man” and yet in all walks of life people are perceived in different ways and often judged according to the way they dress.

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In the Torah, those selected to serve as priests were expected to wear special garments – eight in total for the High Priest – and these would be a source of honour and distinction. But can any amount or particular style of clothes really change an ordinary person into a servant of God?

The great 19th century scholar, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains that these clothes are symbolic and represents the wearer, not in terms of who they actually are as an individual but who they should be in accordance with God’s laws.

When the priest dons his special garments he then makes himself and those around him aware that, as a person, he is still inadequate when it comes to complying with the demands placed upon him.

Of course, clothes cannot make us what we are not, but they can make us into who we know we should be. They can spur us to become better people and when our inside reflects our outside appearance then we will be worthy of honour and distinction.

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