Parshas Tetzaveh

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Parshas Tetzaveh

“Don’t judge a book by its cover”. Sounds familiar! Everyone at some point or time relies on this somewhat ancient phrase. Whether it be the way someone is dressed, their facial look, or how they are acting, “don’t judge a book by its cover” is seeminlgy the phrase of choice for giving the benefit of the doubt. Outside appearances can often be deceiving, and give a false impression of what’s going on inside. However, it just might be that such a “cop-out” is fine for inanimate objects, but not for human beings. Sometimes the cover is right on for what’s going on inside the person.

The Mesillat Yesharim, in his chapter to alacrity, explains the cohesion between the inner feelings and thoughts of a person, and his or her behavior. He explains that one who is involved in serving the Almighty and is “fired up” in their service will surely mirror those feelings in their outer actions. Not only in action, but also in dress and behavior. And on the flip side, the Messilat Yesharim says that faking it works too! If someone wants to wake up their inner self and “fire up” to serve the Almighty, one need not go too far. Just “fake it” on the outside, and eventually the inner fire will start up. The way one acts and dresses can have a huge effect on their inner feelings. Where could the Messilat Yesharim come up with such an amazing idea?

It happens to be that this exact point is a Rashi in this week’s Torah portion. The parsha speaks about the clothes of the kohanim. The Almighty tells Moshe to tell the people involved in the construction of the kohanim’s clothes, “make them in order to sanctify the kohanim to serve me”. On the word sanctify, Rashi says in order to sanctify them, thus bringing them to the kahuna through the clothes. It seems from Rashi’s interpretation that without the clothes, the kohanim would not have been on a high enough spiritual level to fulfill their duties. Only through the clothes was the lofty level needed for service as a Kohen able to be attained. It seems like magic, but it’s really a simple formula. Dress or act like a holy person, and eventually you will become holy. Outer factors such as dress, behavior, and community effect everyone, for better or worse. If someone dresses like a bum, he feels like a bum. And if someone dresses like a top executive, he begins to feel like a top executive. Furthermore, if someone does charitable acts, he begins to become charitable. And if someone plays pranks and is mean to people, he eventually becomes a mean person. The Torah is telling us the secret to perfecting ones character. JUST FAKE IT! After a while of faking it, you might just mean it!

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