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Challah for the Soul: Do Clothes Matter?

Parshas tetzaveh. Challah for the soul

Garments of honor and beauty.

Last night I stood in front of a crowd of women and spoke about the lessons of challah in our life.

Getting up to speak involves much more than just preparing the teaching I want to impart... it also requires making sure my nails are ✅ hair (wig ;) ✅ heels (obviously) and of course, figuring out what to wear... always the most complicated part!

You may think it doesn’t matter. If the words I speak are meaningful and from the heart why should it make a difference what I wear?

The Torah Portion this week, Parshat Tetzaveh, details the intricacies of the garments of the priests in the Beit hamikdash- the holy temple. The verse says that these vestments will serve as garments of honor and beauty.

We tend to underestimate the power of our clothing as an expression of our deeper selves. We think that garments are just exterior... don’t judge a book by its cover, right?

But as a graphic designer, and having designed many a book cover (including my own!) I can tell you that a book cover

serves an important function. We aren’t going to sit down with the book for 3 hours to decide if this is something worth reading... the cover needs to tell us something important about the contents.

The month of Adar and holiday of Purim is all about garments and masks. When we put something on to conceal ourselves, we are simultaneously revealing something else, telegraphing a message about who we are.

Our garments are our interface with the world around us. What do we want ours to convey?

Mordechai dons sackcloth to express his state of sorrow, Esther dresses in her finest garments to showcase her position as queen, King Achashverosh eventually dresses Mordechai in royal garments to connote his elevated status.

Garments are a window. They allow a glimpse into what lies beneath.

In Tanya we speak of thoughts, speech and actions as being the “garments of the soul” the way our soul expresses itself and interfaces with the world.

The torah tells us that garments can be used for honor and grace. And it’s our choice. Everyday. How will we express ourselves? Portray our innermost self?

It’s easy to say that people shouldn’t judge and it shouldn’t matter how we appear or dress... but that’s not the reality. The torah recognizes this. Garments are the entree into the psyche of the other.

So what do our garments say about us? What is the message we want to convey?

As we prepare to dress up for Purim and plan our costume, we take some time to reflect on our costume choice... what are we revealing when we put on that mask??

Each week we cover our challahs on the Shabbat table. According them the honor they deserve. We dress in special clothing, reserved for the Shabbat to honor the day and it’s holiness. We use our garments for honor and grace and reveal the beauty that is inherent within.

May your Shabbat be peaceful and rejuvenating, reconnecting you to your deepest truth. And may we all merit to express ourselves fully through joy this Purim!

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