OU Torah Insights
February 27, 1999
Rabbi Bertram Leff
In 1940, the American
Agudath Israel organization convened a memorial gathering upon the passing of the great
rabbinic leader of Eastern Europe, Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski, zt"l. At the
gathering, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt"l, described Rabbi
Grodzinskis leadership of European Jewry by comparing it to the vestments of the kohein
gadol described in our parshah.
The High Priest wore a
golden headband (tzitz) engraved with the words, "Kodesh LaHashemHoly
to Hashem." The headband "shall be on his forehead always, to bring them favor
component of the kohein gadols vestments was the choshen, the
breastplate that contained twelve stones representing each of the twelve tribes of Israel.
The Breastplate of Judgment was to be "on Aarons heart when he comes before
Hashem, and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel on his heart
constantly before Hashem."
explained that the tzitz, the golden band worn on the forehead of the kohein
gadol, represents the intellect, the knowledge of Torah that a leader of Israel must
possess. The choshen, the breastplate, symbolizes the heart of love, commitment and
devotion to Klal Yisroel, to the tribes of Israel.
encompasses a love for each Jew and a concern for the needs of every segment of the Jewish
people, represented by the names of each of the tribes engraved in each stone on the
The kohein gadol of
each generation, men such as Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski, the Rav said, integrated into
their leadership the tzitz and the choshengreat intellectual knowledge
of Torah coupled with a heart full of love and devotion to Klal Yisroel.
Shabbos Zachor, is the Sabbath before the festival of Purim. If we were to analyze the
leadership of Mordechai and Esther we would find that their leadership of the Jewish
people reflected intellect and heart, Torah knowledge and compassion for the future of the
G-d has given each of
us the potential to be a spiritual kohein gadol, to combine both Torah learning and
commitment to the Jewish people. In our daily lives we have the opportunity to wear the tzitz,
the golden headband of the kohein gadol, and thereby, through the study of Torah,
bring the holiness of Hashem into our daily existence.
In addition, we can
place the choshen, the breastplate of the kohein gadol on our hearts and
strive to love every Jew. In this way we will merit to bring to fruition the glory that is
Hashems mission for the tribes of Israel.
Rabbi Bertram Leff
Rabbi Leff is the
editor of Torah Insights.