Parashat Sav: Our Secret Weapon
The Torah in the beginning of Parashat Sav describes the Kohen wearing "Mido Bad" – a fitted linen garment, referring to the special priestly vestments worn by the Kohanim. The Ba’al Haturim (Rabbenu Yaakob Ben Asher, Germany-Spain, 1269-1343) observes that this marks one of only two instances in the entire Tanach where we find the word "Mido." The other is in a description of the military garb worn by King David’s general, Yoab. This unusual term thus points to a connection of sorts between these two contexts – the priestly vestments worn by the Kohen, and a general’s uniform. The Ba’al Haturim explains that when the Kohen donned his special garments to serve in the Bet Hamikdash, he was as powerful as a mighty general leading his troops to battle.
A classic example of this notion taught by the Ba’al Haturim is the famous story told of Alexander the Great, who led his army toward Jerusalem with the intention of conquering it. Shimon Ha’sadik, the saintly Kohen Gadol at the time, donned his special priestly garments and went outside Jerusalem to greet the mighty general. As soon as Alexander saw Shimon Ha’sadik, he stopped, dismounted from his horse, and prostrated before the high priest.
The general’s men were astonished. Why, they wondered, did Alexander, the mightiest warrior on the face of the earth, who had set his sights upon capturing Jerusalem, show such awe and deference to the Jewish leader?
Alexander explained to them that every time he waged war, he saw the image of this man – Shimon Ha’sadik – in front of him on the battlefield. Until that day, he never knew who this man was, and why he appeared to him during battle. Now he understood. It was the merit of this great Sadik, Shimon the Kohen Gadol, that had brought him the unprecedented success he enjoyed. He owed everything to Shimon Ha’sadik, the pious Kohen garbed in the special priestly attire serving in the Bet Ha’mikdash.
Indeed, as the Ba’al Haturim commented, the garments of the Kohen Gadol have extraordinary power and are a major weapon in our struggles against our foes.
Our Sages teach us that although we cannot offer sacrifices or perform the other Misvot of the Bet Ha’mikdash, we can nevertheless be considered as having performed this service through our study of the relevant laws. When we study about the Korbanot, for example, we are considered as though we actually offered the sacrifices upon the altar. And thus when we study the Parashiyot of the Book of Vayikra which deal with the sacrifices and other subjects related to the Bet Ha’mikdash, we gain access to their extraordinary power. These topics might seem esoteric, irrelevant and uninspiring, but there are immensely valuable.
During these dangerous times we live in, when the Jewish people face mounting threats on several different fronts, this study is an effective weapon that we must utilize. By delving into the study of the service of the Bet Ha’mikdash, we erect strong defenses against the enemies that threaten us, and help ensure the protection and safety of the Jewish people around the world.