I have already explained at length in parashat Teruma how the Tabernacle was a re-enactment of the work of Creation [i.e. a microcosm] and that it served as man's rehabilitation for the damage to G‑d's universe brought about by Adam's sin. We have also explained that there was a parallel Tabernacle in the Celestial Regions.

Aaron, as High Priest, symbolized the rehabilitation of man who had become distant from G‑d as a result of Adam's sin.

Concerning Aaron, the Torah writes: "As for you [Moses], bring close Aaron your brother etc." (Ex. 28:1) Here the Torah expresses a mystical dimension of the verse: "No man shall be inside the tent." (Lev. 16:17) This is a reference to original Adam. The universe was created under the aegis of loving-kindness, as we know from "The universe was built with loving-kindness" (Psalms 89:3).

The "The structure corresponding to the physical universe in the Celestial Regions," contains the secret of the seven days of creation and commences with the sefira of chesed down to the sefira of malchut, i.e. seven emanations.

The original jewelry had been taken from Man due to the powerful impact of Adam's sin….

We find that in connection with Aaron, the man of kindness [representing the attribute of chesed], the Torah (Deut. 33:8) speaks about the "Urim and Tumim". We have explained that the three groups of Israelites, i.e. the Priests, Levites, and Israelites, corresponded to the three sefirot of chesed, gevura, tiferet, respectively.

The original "jewelry" had been taken from Man due to the powerful impact of Adam's sin. At that time Man's original vestments were exchanged from "kutanot or" [spelled with an alef], "garments made of light", for "kutanot ohr" [spelled with an ayin], "garments made of hide" (Gen. 3:21). In our portion, the Torah orders that "kutanot", tunics, be made for Aaron's sons (Ex. 28:40), who had to be dressed in sacred vestments. They put on holy anointing oil on their bodies before they dressed in the sacred vestments.

By following this procedure, the priests ceased being "strangers" or "outsiders", as they had been before putting on garments which could not be worn by non-priests. When Adam became an "outsider", this was due to the pollutant with which the Serpent had infected him. It was this pollutant from which he had to be purified.

Aaron was the human being through whom this rehabilitation of Man was achieved….

Aaron was the human being through whom this rehabilitation of Man was achieved. He had to be separate to sanctify his body. He thereafter dressed in the sacred vestments which conferred upon him "honor and glory", the very kind of visible distinction that Adam enjoyed while dressed in garments made of light. The pollutant present in Man because of the serpent's infection was converted into something positive by means of the breastplate Aaron wore on his heart. The ineffable name of G‑d was engraved on the stones of the breastplate, as well as the names of the 12 Tribes. The names of the 12 Tribes as well as the names of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were engraved between the 12 gemstones set in it. The latter represented the Holy Chariot, whereas the former represented the twelve possible ways of arranging the letters of the Ineffable Name.

While Aaron and his sons were thus sanctified, the people were sanctified by restrictions in their diet as outlined in Leviticus chapter 11. This was parallel to G‑d telling Adam in the Garden of Eden that Man was allowed to eat from all the tress in that garden except from the Tree of Knowledge.

Concepts of the various types of disqualifications of sacrificial matter all derive from the Tree of Knowledge from which Adam ate. Just as the priests were separate in sanctity, their clothing was separate and their food and drink were separate. In order to enable them to eat and drink some of the things that had been sanctified and offered on the altar, the place where such service was performed also had to be separate and sanctified so as to lend an additional level of sanctity to the service they performed.

The smoke created the connection….

This element of sanctity of the site applied both to the general area of the Tabernacle, i.e. the courtyard surrounding it, the Sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, as well as to different levels of sanctity of the different types of sacrifices. Sacrifices offered on the "outer" copper altar possessed a different degree of holiness from the incense which was offered on the golden altar within the Sanctuary. The latter was the offering dearest to G‑d and drew G‑d's goodwill down to His creatures on earth. The Aramaic word for "kesher", meaning "connection", is the same as the Hebrew word for "keter", referring to smoke, or incense. The smoke created the connection.

Since the essence of the incense offering consisted of the fragrance it exuded, something that is closest to - spirit - i.e. a spiritual concept, it was especially close to G‑d, Who is pure spirit. It can be appreciated only by the soul, not by the body. It was therefore uniquely designed to establish close communion with the Shechina. This is why it was offered inside the Sanctuary, for most animal offerings could not be offered inside the Sanctuary; even incense could only be offered inside the Sanctuary when it was the incense of the public. Private incense offerings were not offered there. It was considered incense of an alien nature.

Even Aaron only had the right to enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement once a year, as stated by the Torah, "He must not enter at will into the [Holy of Holies] behind the curtain, in front of the cover which is upon the Ark, lest he die" (Lev. 16:2). Our sages comment on this that it was only Aaron who was not allowed into the Holy of Holies whenever he wanted; Moses, however, was allowed to enter at will (Sifra on Lev. 16:2).

We must understand that Moses was not a stranger/alien, because the raw-material he was made of had been so refined that it was itself pure and holy, similar to being garbed in garments of light. This is why according to Talmud (Sotah 12), at his birth, the house of his parents was filled with light. The material Aaron's body was made of did contain some parts tainted by the residue of the pollutant of the original serpent; it was incumbent upon him to rid himself of that element, something that he was able to do only with the help of the holy oil of anointing. Even with the help of that holy element he did not attain the level of Moses [and required the advent of the Day of Atonement so that he might be free, at least temporarily, of foreign elements, Ed].

Moses…never been alienated from his original level of sanctity, as had all the other human beings including his brother Aaron….

Keeping this in mind we can answer the question how Moses could have performed service in the Sanctuary during the seven days preceding the eighth day of Nissan mentioned in Lev. (9:1) Our sages answered this question saying that Moses went in wearing a white shirt (Taanit 11).

At first glance the question does not seem to fit the answer. If the questioner wanted to know whence Moses had taken the sacred vestments to enable him to perform the service in the Sanctuary [because he presumed that such service could not be performed without the sacred vestments] then the answer simply skirts the issue. If, on the other hand, the questioner did not consider the wearing of the sacred vestments as an absolute prerequisite before such service in the Tabernacle could be performed, what was the point of the question?

We therefore have to assume that the questioner presumed that the sacred vestments were an absolute prerequisite for such service to be performed. This is why he wanted to know where Moses took such garments from, seeing the Torah had not mentioned anything about sacred vestments at that point in time. He was told that Moses performed the service wearing a white shirt because there was no requirement for him to wear sacred vestments. The reason Moses did not need them was because he had never been an "outsider", meaning he had never been alienated from his original level of sanctity, as had all the other human beings including his brother Aaron.

The "white shirt" mentioned by the Talmud is an allusion to the garments of light worn by Adam prior to his sin. Since Moses personally was of distinguished material, "honor and glory", he did not need sacred garments to achieve such an image.

To return to the main issue that Aaron, the man of chesed, rehabilitated the original Adam and that the universe is built on chesed. Since the world was constructed during the seven days of Creation, which in turn paralleled the seven sefirot employed in its construction, seven days of inauguration of the Tabernacle were required before it commenced functioning as a microcosm in the fullest sense of the word.

The Zohar quotes Rabbi Yitzchak on the verse: The light of the moon will equal the light of the sun in brilliance, and the brilliance of the light of the sun will be seven times greater than during the seven days of Creation. (Isaiah 30:26) Rabbi Yuda said that the prophet referred to the seven days during which the Tabernacle was inaugurated. The world had been plunged in darkness so that it might re-emerge bathed in light on the occasion of the inauguration of the Tabernacle. On that occasion the moon shone brilliantly as it had done before it was diminished, so as not to embarrass it at a time when the universe had been rehabilitated. Rabbi Yuda based himself on the verse: A quarrelsome one alienates a friend. (Proverbs 16:28)

[Translated and adapted by Eliyahu Munk.]