What will you wear for Pesach?

Brigitte Rosenberg is senior rabbi at United Hebrew Congregation.

By Rabbi Brigitte Rosenberg

In this week’s parashah, Tzav, we learn that the priest is to “dress in linen raiment, with linen breeches next to his body” when he takes up the ashes from the burn offering. We then learn that he should take off his vestments and put on other vestments to carry the ashes outside of the camp. Who knew that clothing played such a significant role in the life of the priest?

And yet, why not? The clothing he wore let others know that he was a priest. And perhaps the difference in the clothing he wore, based on his task, was a way to help him prepare or center himself on his task. 

Even the rabbis take note of the Torah’s focus on the priests clothing, and they understand that what we wear has the power to elevate and make holy. 

Think about it. How does your clothing affect how you carry yourself? Affect your behavior? When we are dressed up, we often carry ourselves differently than when we are in our everyday, casual home clothing.

 This week, as we read about the priests and their clothing, we are preparing for the festival of Pesach. Most of us are cleaning our homes and ridding our lives of chametz, both the physical and the spiritual. We are purchasing our “pesadich” foods and preparing our hearts and minds for the festival to come. And yet, I wonder: How many are thinking about what they are going to wear for Passover? 

Yes, I asked what you are going to wear. Believe it or not, our clothing is an important part of our celebration.

 In Jewish legal writings, it is taught that during Shabbat and festivals, we are to wear our finest clothing. In fact, one should try to the best of one’s ability to buy new clothing for one’s family in honor of festival. 

And a favorite law, from Orech Hayim, is that a husband is required to buy his wife a gift of clothing, jewelry or something else that makes her happy in honor of the festival. However, I’m thinking that today we will amend this so that “partners” may buy each other clothing and jewelry to help celebrate and elevate the festival and season, as this need not only be relegated to a husband.

 Like the priests who have to consider not only their tasks but the garments they wear as they fulfill those tasks, let us not forget that part of preparing ourselves — our hearts and our souls for — Pesach, is to consider what we will wear. May we clothe ourselves in strength, dignity and in the beauty befitting this celebration of freedom.

Chag Pesach Sameach!