Vayakhel/Pekudai: The Clothes Making the Man ~ Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein

The Malbim and others explain how a bevy of apparent synonyms for “clothing” actually differ from one another. As many commentators note, the Hebrew words levush and malbush do not inherently refer to clothing. Rather, they are conjugations of the Hebrew verb lovesh (“he dresses”), and refer to that with which one dresses. Malbim further explains that the word beged is a general term that includes all sorts of clothing, while other words, in various ways, refer to specific types of clothing.

Returning to the word levush, the commentators explain that it denotes a type of garment which is worn in the normal way of dressing, but is nevertheless special because most people do not wear this type of garment. A levush is a distinct type of clothing reserved for certain individuals. To this effect, the word levush is applied in the construct to form phrases like levush malchut (“royal clothes”), levush sak (“sackcloth) and more.

The word kesut (which literally means “cover”) refers specifically to clothing which is worn by simply covering oneself with it (like a poncho or a shawl). It is not worn in the normal fashion of donning clothes. Sometimes, the first letter of the word kesut is dropped and the word appears as sut (e.g., Genesis 41:11). A type of kesut that is worn at night is known as a salmah or simlah (with the metathesis of language allowing for the placement of the L and M consonants to be interchanged). The Malbim explains that another difference between kesut and salmah/simlah is that the former is only used to cover oneself, while the latter also gives honor to its wearer. Rabbi Shlomo Pappenheim argues that the word kesut focuses on clothes’ ability to protect its wearer (whether from the heat, the cold, or something else).

Rabbi Shlomo Aharon Wertheimer points out that the above stands in contrast with the explanation proffered by Rabbi Yosef Kolon (1420-1480), also known as the Maharik. He wrote that beged denotes a simple piece of cloth like a tallit that is not fitted to the one wearing it, while kesut implies a specially sewn garment that fits to one’s shapes and dimensions. Rabbi Wertheimer further writes that a salmah/simlah is a linen cloth that can be folded and used to cover one’s head, neck, and upper torso (similar to a hijab or kefiyeh), and also doubles as a bed sheet when unfolded to its full size. Rabbi Wertheimer agrees that when worn, a salmah/simlah generally serves as a badge or symbol of honor.

Although he goes against the consensus, Ibn Ezra (to Exodus 22:25) actually writes that salmah and simlah are not synonymous. Rather, he explains, simlah is a general term which includes multiple items, and that salmah is one of those items that falls into the category of simlah.

The word mad (rhymes with tod) refers specifically to a garment which is custom-fitted to the person intended to wear that article. It is related to the Hebrew word moded (“measure”). In Modern Hebrew madim refers to a uniform, most commonly the fatigues worn by soldiers. The word maateh refers to “wrapping” or “enveloping” and need not necessarily refer to clothing, but to anything which is wrapped around something else or otherwise envelops it.

Malbim explains that the word me’il refers to the outermost layer of clothing which one might wear, and is related to the Hebrew word mei’al (“on top”). Rabbi Wertheimer writes that me’il denotes a thin, delicate article of clothing.

Rabbi Moshe Shapiro (1935-2017) notes that the words beged and me’il are both related to the idea of perfidy. The word beged is related to the noun begidah (treachery) and the word me’il is related to the word me’ilah (betrayal). Rabbi Shapiro explains that when a man dons a beged he uses that implement to conceal his true, inner-self and reveal to the outside a façade. This duplicity is conceptually related to the idea of treachery and betrayal, whereby one feigns loyalty on the outside but has nefarious intentions on the inside.

The word levush, on the other hand, denotes a pragmatic, utilitarian use of clothing. The Talmud (Shabbat 77b) explains that the word levush is a contraction of the words lo bushah (“no embarrassment”), because the purpose of wearing a levush is simply to cover oneself in a respectable way — there are no dastardly motives. Rabbi Yochanan called his clothes “the honors” (Bava Kama 91b) because he viewed his clothes as simply a mechanism by which he may respectably present himself in public, as opposed to a mask behind which to hide.

Following this sort of model, Rabbi Shlomo of Karlin (1738-1792) explains that every action a person does creates a layer of dressing for his soul, but that there are two types of dressings. If he does a good deed he creates a levush for his soul, and if he does a bad deed he creates a beged over his soul. What you wear depends on what you do. Although the famous cliché suggests that “the clothes make the man,” we see that actually the opposite is true: “The man makes the clothes.”

Vayakhel: Horns of Pride ~ Tzvi Abrahams


Horns of Pride

קֶרֶן: horn

קֶרֶן זוית: corner

קֶרֶן: value, principle

קֶרֶן אור: ray

קֶרֶן: pride

קֶרֶן: Horn

וַיַּעַשׂ אֶת מִזְבַּח הַקְּטֹרֶת עֲצֵי שִׁטִּים אַמָּה אָרְכּוֹ וְאַמָּה רָחְבּוֹ רָבוּעַ וְאַמָּתַיִם קֹמָתוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ הָיוּ קַרְנֹתָיו
Andthe incense altar was made with shitimwood, an amahlong and an amahwide, square, and two amosits height — from it were its horns.1

Once a year on Yom Kippur, the Kohen Gadolwould place the blood of the sin offerings on the horns of theMizbei’ach. Once a year, Hashem gives the gift of Yom Kippur to forgive our sins. Yom Kippur was the day we were forgiven for the sin of the Golden Calf, where we, so to speak, lifted our own horns against G-d. Now, on Yom Kippur, just like the horns of an animal give it strength, so too the blood on the horns of the Mizbei’achsymbolizes the strength and power of atonement to wipe the slate clean.

קֶרֶן: Corner

וַיַּעַשׂ קַרְנֹתָיו עַל אַרְבַּעפִּנֹּתָיו
And its horns were made on its four corners.2

The English word cornercomes from the Hebrew word קֶרֶן/keren. Just like a horn, in order for it to fulfill its purpose it must come to a point, so too a corner is pointed. The corners are the foundation and strength of the building. Just like when putting together a puzzle one starts with the four corners, so too with a building, the corners are the essential components and are made strong in order to support the whole structure of the building. 

A corner shop has pride and place over one in the street because it has two sides facing the public.

When we leave the beis midrash, we thank Hashem for placing our portion among those who sit in the house of learning and for not placing our portion among thoseמִיוֹשְׁבֵי קְרָנִוֹת/who sit on the street corners. Rashi gives two explanations forמִיוֹשְׁבֵי קְרָנִוֹת as either referring to shopkeepers, i.e., those who own the corner shops and have so much business that they have no time to sit and learn, or to those who sit idly by on the street corners talking about empty things, like the ones who play backgammon all day long on the street-corner cafés.

קֶרֶן: Value, Principle

After we make the morning brachoson learning the Torah, we recite the Mishnah in the beginning ofPe’ahthat says: אֵלּוּ דְבָרִים שֶׁאָדָם אוֹכֵל פֵּרוֹתֵיהֶן בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וְהַקֶּרֶן קַיֶּמֶת לוֹ לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא…/these are the things that a man eats of their fruits in this world and the principal remains in the World to Come.

Here,קֶרֶןmeans value. There are certain mitzvos where, although we benefit from them in this world, this does not depreciate their value in the World to Come. 

קֶרֶן: Ray

קֶרֶן אוֹר refers to a sunbeam. When the sun is low on the horizon and is obscured by small clouds, the sunlight spreads out in a spectacular display of light beams.

At the end of Parshas Ki Sisa, Moshe comes down the mountain after receiving the second tablets with a קֶרֶן עוֹר/ray of light shining from his face. While Moshe is hidden in the cleft of the rock, Hashem passes the back of His glory over Moshe. The experience was so exhilarating that it left a Divine imprint on his face to the point where he wasliterallybeaming with the light of the Shechinah— so much so that he had to wear a mask in order that the people would not benefit inappropriately from the Divine light. (This is the source for the anti-Semitic imagery that Jews have horns.)

Moshe Rabbeinu, who epitomized the middahof humility, was therefore depicted by the Torah to be the one worthy to carry the קֶרֶן עוֹר, in stark contrast to the קֶרֶןof pride.

קֶרֶן: Pride

וְאַל תַּעֲמֹד לִפְנֵי הַשּׁוֹר בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁעוֹלֶה מִן הָאֲגַם,לְפִישֶׁהַשָּׂטָן מְרַקֵּד בֵּין קַרְנָיו,אָמַר שְׁמוּאֵל:בְּשׁוֹר שָׁחוֹר וּבְיוֹמֵי נִיסָן.
The Gemara in Pesachimgives the following advice: Do not stand in front of an ox at the time it comes up from the pond because the Satan is dancing between its horns; Shmuel says this specifically refers to a black ox in the month of Nisan.3

When we picture a black bull with fearsome horns, we immediately depict the scene of a bullfight.4The black bull is notoriously wild, yet the Gemara is informing us that in the month of Nisan, it gains an added aspect of danger.

In the Kav HaYashar, the following explanation is given: The reason why the ox becomes particularly meshugain the month of Nisan is because it is the time when the ox eats from the new growth of grasses and vegetation. The souls of the wicked, which have been turned away from the gates of Heaven, have to come down to this world as plant life to undergo tikkun. The grasses, when eaten by the animals, cause the souls to pass along the food chain until they are finally eaten by man, and when abrachahis recited over the meat or milk from these animals, the lost souls finally reach their tikkun.5

Since the nature of the ox is to eat a lot of these grasses, it causes many of these rejected souls to be ingested into him. This increases its tendency to be even wilder. So in the month of Nisan, the ox is said to be מוּעֵד לְהַזִיק/prone to cause damage. The part of the body that can inflict the most harm is the horns of the ox, which is why the Satan (the collection of all the wicked souls) is said to be dancing between its horns.

Another reason why the Satan rests davkahbetween the horns of the ox is because his pride is his horns. קֶרֶןis the only part of the animal where the inside (the bone) is on the outside, showing pride. And for this reason, in Perek Shirah, the ox sings every day to Hashem: אָשִׁירָה לַה’כִּי גָאֹהגָּאָה/I will sing to Hashem because He is exalted above the arrogant ones. The ox is apt to praise Hashem in that only Hashem is the appropriate one to have גֵאוּת/pride. Pride should not be found in the horns of the ox or in the pride of man, like it says: ה’מָלָךְ גֵּאוּת לָבֵשׁ/that Hashem is King, clothed in pride.6This is a תּוֹכָחָה/reproof to all בַּעַלֵי גַאַוָוה/arrogant men who are proud of their wealth, wisdom, position, or even their Torah; if they have the middahof גַאַוָוה/pride, they become a vehicle for the sitra achra(they are batting for the other side!).

It says: וְלָרְשָׁעִים אַל תָּרִימוּ קָרֶן.אַל תָּרִימוּ לַמָּרוֹם קַרְנְכֶם/and to the wicked do not raise your pride, do not raise your pride heavenward.7At the end of that Psalm it says: וְכָל קַרְנֵי רְשָׁעִים אֲגַדֵּעַ תְּרוֹמַמְנָה קַרְנוֹת צַדִּיק/and all the pride of the wicked I will cut down, whereas the pride of the righteous will be exalted. 

Rashi says that the קַרְנֵי רְשָׁעִים/the pride of the wicked refers to Amalek.

Parshas Zachor, the reading that reminds us of the mitzvah to wipe out Amalek, usually falls around the time of this parshah. On the words in the verse that describe Amalek’s attack, אֲשֶׁר קָרְךָ בַּדֶּרֶךְ/which happened to you along the way, the Kli Yakar comments that this refers to the sin of מִשְׁכַּב זָכָר/homosexuality. This is one of the weapons of Amalek, because Hashem’s kedushahis only found in a place where one guards oneself from promiscuity. As a result of this sin in particular, Amalek was able to weaken us to the point where they could wage war with us and succeed in breaking our ties with HaKadosh Baruch Hu. 

The Kli Yakar, in his commentary regarding the אַיִל שֶׁל יִצְחָק/the ram that was sacrificed instead of Yitzchak, says that anyone who is a sinner is compared לְאִישׁ בַּעַל קַרְנַים מְנַגֵחַ כְּלַפֵּי מַעַלָה/to a man with horns who uses them to gore Heaven.8These are the people who davkahsin against Heaven.

These sinners with Amalek (mentioned above) who march in the name of pride, who are proud of their yetzer hara, are in effect digging their horns into Hashem’s side. They sin against Heaven like no other sinners because they flaunt their sin to the world to the point where they have turned their sin into a mitzvah, where it is now legal to get married. These are the real wicked ones who can be said to have the Satan dancing between their horns.

The nature of a deer is to break off its horns when they become too long so that they don’t become entangled in the thicket. After Avraham was tested by Akeidas Yitzchak, the pasuksays: וְהִנֵה אַיִל אַחַר נֶאֶחַז בַּסְבַךְ בְּקַרְנָיו/and behold, another ram was caught in the thicket by its horns.

The Kli Yakar comments that a man is trapped with his horns through being proud.

One who is proud of his nature cannot affect change, for it says that Hashem and pride cannot live under the same roof. So in order to return home to Hashem, one must first free himself from pride. One has to so to speak break off his horns of pride.

The mishnah at the end of Kesubosmentions that a person who gives support to a woman while her husband is overseas loses his money, using the expression: הֵנִיחַ מָעוֹתָיו עַל קֶרֶן צְבִי/as if he has placed his money on the horns of a deer, because just like a deer breaks of its horns when they grow too long, so too his money if placed on the horns of a deer that will break away, i.e., he has no way of getting it back.

So we see from here that what entraps the deer is its horns being too long and getting caught in the thicket, yet by breaking them off he becomes free from entrapment.

Therefore, the solution to the problem of the קֶרֶןgrowing too long, which represents pride, is to brake them off. This teaches us that the horns of the resha’imcan be broken, and that the ways of teshuvahare open to them to effect change, to break off their horns of pride, so to speak, and continue along the straight path unheeded.

InKoheles, we find a seeming contradiction in that it says in one place that something made bent cannot be straightened,9whereas the Midrash says what is bent can be made straight!10The answer to the discrepancy is the difference between one who doesteshuvahand one who does not — that teshuvahhas the power to straighten even something made bent.11

The Gemara in Shabbosbrings down the following derashafrom the letters daletand kuf:

דַלְתוֹתַי נָעַל קַרְנָיו לֹא אַגַדֵעַ.12

This can be interpreted in two ways: “My doors they lock, shall I not cut off their horns?” Or “My doors are locked, I will not cut off their horns.” Again, the difference between the two statements can be attributed to one who breaks himself and does teshuvah, and the one who (chas v’shalom) does not.

Is it fair that a diabetic cannot eat sweet, sugary foods? If he does, he will die, so he overcomes his desire because he realizes that life is more important. So too, if someone has a taavah/desire that goes against the spiritual laws of the universe, would he not stop and מִתְגַבֵּר/overcome his nature, knowing that the alternative is death?

In the Shemoneh Esrei, we pray תְּקַע בְּשׁוֹפָר גָּדוֹל /for the blowing of the great shofar, and also מַצְמִיחַ קֶרֶן יְשוּעָה/that the horn of salvation should grow. These prayers refer to the horn of salvation from the ram of Akeidas Yitzchak. How appropriate, then,that the horn that symbolizes pride, when hollowed out from all of its גַס רוּחַ/haughtiness, is the very instrument that wakes us up to do teshuvahand which will ultimately herald the Mashaich.

In conclusion, Hashem is warning us that when the springtime comes, when the sun beams its rays and there is a sense of new life and fresh energy in the air, we should distance ourselves from the horns of the black bull, the one whose pride makes him meshugaand causes the Satan to dance between his horns. Rather, we should attach ourselves to the ox that instead sings shirahevery day to Hashem, and we should attribute the true horns of pride Heavenwards, to the קֶרֶן אוֹר/light beams of the Divine Presence. 

1Shemos 37:25.


3Pesachim 112b.

4See Bava Kamma 4:4.

5Kav HaYashar 88.

6Tehillim 93:1.

7Tehillim 75:5.

8Bereishis 22:13.

9Koheles 1:15.

10Koheles Rabbah 1:15.


12Shabbos 104a.

Vaykhell/Parshas Shekalim: The Glory of Adar ~ Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein


The Beauty of Adar

This upcoming week ushers in the month of Adar in all its glory. Like all the months of the Jewish calendar, the name Adar is derived from the Babylonian calendar—its original name was Addaru. Based on the interchangability of the Aramaic ALEPH with the Hebrew HEY, the name Adar seems to be correlated to the Hebrew word hadar. In this essay, we will explore the difference between the word hadar (“glory”) and its twin sister hod (“splendor”). In doing so, we will also discover the connection alluded to by Kabbalists between the month of Adar and the tribe of Yosef.

An anonymous work entitled Sefer ha-Kushyot (from the 13th century school of Chassidei Ashkenaz) explains that Adar is called so because during that month the hadar of the trees manifests itself (because Adar heralds the coming of spring), or because that was the month in which the glory of the Jewish people—Moshe Rabbeinu—was born. What does hadar mean? R. Shlomo of Urbino (a 16th century Italian scholar) in his work Ohel Moed (a lexicon of Hebrew synonyms) writes that hadar and adar are two of ten synonymous which refer to the concept of beauty: yofi, hod, hadar, adar, na’eh (naaveh), ziv, ziz, tzvi, shefer (shapir), and tov. [Interestingly, Ziv—which literally means “radiance”—is the original name of the month Iyyar, which, like Adar, is partially in the spring.]

The Vilna Gaon explains the difference between hod and hadar by way of an analogy to astronomy. He explains that hod denotes self-beauty, just as the sun’s light express the essence of the sun. Hadar, on the other hand, denotes reflected beauty, just as the moon’s light is not inherent to the moon, but only appears to come from the moon. The true source of moonlight is the sun. R. Moshe Shapiro (1935–2017) adds that in Aramaic, the word hadar means to “return back”, which is an apt description of the moon that reflects sunlight. The moon takes what it receives from the sun and reflects back the same light. R. Yaakov Tzvi Mecklenburg (1785–1865) cites R. Shmuel Dovid Luzzatto (1800–1865) who wrote that the word hadar (“glory” or “honor”) is related to the Aramaic word for “going backwards” because he who beholds something in its full glory is taken aback by its grandeur and reflexively recoils in awe.

The Vilna Gaon further explains that the term hadrat panim is the beauty of one’s facial ambiance and is visible to the naked eye. The term hod on the other hand, refers to a person’s inner good (i.e. morality), which is reflected in one’s facial ambiance. Moshe Rabbeinu attained a spiritual level known as karnei hod (“rays of glory”) in which his inner goodness shone through in a very physical way (see Rashi to Ex. 34:34). As we will see below, Yehoshua remained with only hadar.

The Malbim explains that hadar refers to outward beauty. An etrog (citron) tree is called an eitz hadar (“beautiful tree”) because its fruits are outwardly beautiful. The word hod, on the other hand, refers to the concept of inner beauty. A person to whom the adjective hod is applied is somebody whose beauty lies in his character traits. He is humble, merciful, just, etc… Hod cannot be seen with the eye, it can only be beheld by the intellect. When G-d tells Moshe that his successor will be Yehoshua, He commands Moshe, “Give from your hod to him” (Num. 27:20) this does not refer to the exchange of any physical gift which Moshe possessed and should pass on to his protégé. Rather, it refers to the unseeable spiritual beauty which Moshe had, that he was to somehow transmit to his student. R. Simcha Maimon explains that this is the meaning of the Talmudic adage “The face of Moshe is like the sun, and the face of Yehoshua is like the moon” (Bava Batra 75a); Yehoshua received his inner hod from Moshe in the same way that the moon receives its hod from the sun.

Hod makes up the root of the word hodaah (“admission” or “thanksgiving”). This is because the concept of hodaah is that one recognize what he knows deep down to be true and allows it to come to the forefront by verbally expressing it. In this again, we see that hod refers to that which lies underneath the surface.

The Midrash Sifrei (to Deut. 33:17) understand that the term hod refers specifically to the quality of kingship, possibly because a king assumes inherent powers. When Moshe prophetically blessed the Tribe of Yosef on his deathbed, he said, “Like a firstborn ox, hadar is to him.” (Deut. 33:17). This means that the first leader of the post-Mosaic period will come from the Tribe of Yosef. Indeed, Yehoshua—Moshe’s successor—was a descendant of Yosef’s son Ephraim. In this passage, Moshe does not use the word hod which implies the glory attached to the full sovereignty of kingship. Rather, he used the word hadar which implies only the outer trappings of kingship, but not the full monty. For this reason, Moshe is called a king (Zevachim 102a), while Yehoshua—an important leader as he was—is never explicitly called a king.

The Moshe-Yehoshua paradigm itself mirrors the Yaakov-Yosef model. Yaakov’s entire lifestory foreshadowed all the future events of Yosef’s life. In fact, Yosef is the quintessential descendant of Yaakov (see Genesis 37:2) and even looked exactly like him (see Rashi)! Yet, Yaakov is one of the three forefathers, while Yosef is merely a reflection of that potential. Yosef was hadar, but not hod. For this reason, the month of Adar is associated with the Tribe of Yosef because in that month Moshe died and his successor Yehoshua took the reigns.

The Bible (I Chron. 29:25) tells that when King Solomon ascended the throne, G-d granted him Hod Malchut (“royal glory). However, when Daniel (Dan. 11:20) describes the glory of the future Hasmonean Kingdom, he uses a similar, but different, phrase: Hadar Malchut (“royal glory”). Why does the Bible use the word hadar when describing the Hasmonean Kingdom, and not the word hod like Solomon’s Kingdom? Based on the above, R. Simcha Maimon explains that the term Hod Malchut refers to somebody to whom the kingship inherently belongs, so it is applied to King Solomon, an integral link in the chain of the Davidic Dynasty. The Hasmoneans, on other hand, did not inherently deserve the kingship. On the contrary, they were not of royal stock, but of Priestly descent. Therefore, the Hasmoneans were not in essence kings, they only appeared to be kings on the outside. For this reason, Hasmonean kingship is described as Hadar Malchut—the word hadar representing something which is only true in practice, but not in essence.

The Bible in many places speaks of G-d possessing hod and hadar. Based on our definitions, the Malbim explains that His hadar is manifest in the way He interacts with creation and reveals Himself in the world. However, G-d’s hod is something hidden which we cannot begin to understand because it speaks to something deeper than our ability to perceive. As R. Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808–1888) puts it, G-d’s hadar is His role in the world, while His hod is His essence.

Rabbi Aharon Soloveichik (1917–2001) explains that hod is reflection, hadar is diffraction, and ziv is refraction.

What is fascinating about this is that the Bible in several places (e.g., Psalms 104:1, Job 40:10, Proverbs 31:25) speaks of G-d as “wearing” hod and/or hadar. Similarly, the Midrash says that when the Jews were exiled from the Holy Land to Babylonia, they wore their clothes until they reached Adullam, whereupon the gentiles of that city came out and stripped the Jews of their clothing—leaving them naked and embarrassed. The Midrash finds a Scriptural allusion to this in the verse, “Gone from the Daughter of Zion is all her hadar” (Lamentations 1:6). The word hadar, in this context, is understood to mean “clothing”. These sources tell us that there is a fundamental connection between glory/honor and clothing, but for that, you will have to wait until next week’s article