Numbers in [square brackets] are the Mitzva-count of Sefer HaChinuch AND Rambamís Sefer HaMitzvot. A=ASEI (positive mitzva); L=LAV (prohibition). X:Y is the perek and pasuk from which the mitzva comes.
[P> X:Y (Z)] and [S> X:Y (Z)] indicate start of a parsha pítucha or sítuma respectively. X:Y is Perek:Pasuk of the beginning of the parsha; (Z) is the number of p'sukim in the parsha.
SDT The People of Israel are likened to the Olive - just as the olive shows its greatness (its oil) only after being crushed and squeezed, so too does Israel show its special qualities after being subjected to the trials and tribulations of Jewish History. And Israel is compared to the oil of the olive - just as oil does not mix with other liquids, but rather floats above them, so too Israel does not (should not) mix with the nations of the world. And if we remain faithful to G-d, we will rise above the nations (or groups) who seek to hurt us.
[S> 28:1 (5)] Moshe is next told to bring Aharon and his sons "front and center" to serve G-d as Kohanim. Special garments are to be made for the Kohen Gadol's glory and honor [99,A33 28:2].
Some say that glory and honor refer to G-d's and the People's, not (just) the Kohen Gadol's.
Talented artisans are to do the work. The garments are: the CHOSHEN (Breastplate), EIFOD (decorative apron or cloak), MEíIL (robe or poncho), KUTONET (linen tunic), MITZNEFET (turban), and the AVNEIT (belt or sash).
Note: the TZITZ (forehead plate) and MICHNASAYIM (short pants worn under the Kutonet) are among the garments but are not mentioned at this point in the Torah.
This can be explained. The pants are for modesty, not glory and honor. And, perhaps, the Tzitz is for G-d's honor and to humble the Kohen Gadol, so it too isn't part of the list of the garments that are for the K.G.'s honor and glory.
The artisans were to take the gold, dyed wools, and linen (for the purpose of making the garments).
SDT There are different meanings to the Torah's phrase "for honor and splendor". Ramban gives it a straight- forward meaning - that the garments of the Kohen Gadol were for his glory. They were royal garments befitting the position of the Kohen Gadol, who was like royalty. With his special garments, the Kohen Gadol projected a perfect image. The garments helped present the Kohen Gadol to the People with great and appropriate dignity. This would help the People understand and relate to the Kohen Gadol as the vehicle of the Divine Presence among them.
On a different level, we can say that the objects of glory were G-d and the People themselves. When the Kohen Gadol wore his special garments, and the people see him in his splendor, then there is an increase in honor to G-d. The special garments also increase our awareness of the Sanctity of the Beit HaMikdash, and we are inspired to repent.
"Clothes make the man." In the context of the Beit HaMikdash, the Kohen in general, and the Kohen Gadol in particular, is himself filled with awe and will take his responsibilities more seriously. In addition, each specific garment reminds the Kohen (Gadol), and us, of a different aspect of Jewish Law and Life. Thus the Kohen's thoughts and intentions increase in purity.
Even without a Beit HaMikdash, we are affected by the lessons of many Mikdash-related mitzvot. One should dress especially nicely for Shabbat and Yom Tov. One's own clothes, even during the week, should reflect the dignity of a Torah way of life. Modesty and neatness, plus the positive message we project to others are all part of our daily deportment.
[P> 28:6 (7)] The Eifod is to be woven from yarn made of threads of gold, three colors of dyed wool (blue, purple, crimson - the colors and shades are the subject of centuries of debate) and linen in an intricate style. The Eifod has two shoulder straps. The belt of the Eifod is made in the same manner as the Eifod itself, and is an integral part of it (not a separate piece that was attached).
It is interesting to note that some of the furnishings of the Mishkan and some of the garments were explicitly to be "of a single piece", rather than attached. Not all the items of the Mishkan, nor all the garments, but the point is emphasized in the Torah for those items to which the rule must apply.
Two onyx stones (Shoham) were set on the shoulders, upon which were engraved the names of the tribes. These stones with the names serve as an eternal reminder for the Kohen Gadol.
SDT Talmud Yerushalmi states that the name of Binyamin was engraved on both shoulder-stones, BIN on one and YAMIN on the other. This idea is supported by the language of the Torah - "From six of their names..." rather than "six of their names". In V'ZOT HABRACHA, when Moshe is blessing the tribes, the Torah says of Binyamin that "he will dwell between the shoulders, "U'Vein K'teifav Shachen".
[S> 28:15 (16)] The Choshen is made in the same intricate style and manner of the Eifod. It is rectangular (double square) which when folded (which was the way it was worn) made a square measuring 1 ZERET (a span, which is half an Ama) on a side. Gold settings were woven into the Choshen to receive the twelve precious stones in four rows of three stones each. Straps and fasteners were made to firmly attach the Choshen to the Eifod. They must not be detached from each other [100,L87 28:28]. The Urim V'Tumim (parchment with the Divine Names on it) was inserted into the fold of the Choshen, and gave the Choshen its miraculous powers.
SDT The letters of CHOSHEN rearrange to spell NACHASH, meaning "snake" but also meaning divination through the occult and black magic, powers in this world which are anathma to Torah and Judaism. L'havdil, the Choshen is one of our legitimate tools for revealing hidden things. Significant that these opposite "forces" are actually two sides of the same coin.
CLARIFICATION: The yarn for the Eifod and Choshen was produced as follows: Six stands of T'cheilet-dyed wool (blue, opinions vary as to the shade) were twisted with a strand of gold to produce a thread. The same was done with Argaman-dyed wool (purple, blue- purple, other opinions) and gold, Shani-dyed wool (red, crimson) and gold, Sheish (white linen) and gold. Each thread was made of 7 strands - 6+1 of gold. Then the four threads were twisted together to form the yarn from which the Eifod and the Choshen were woven.
Another CLARIFICATION: Note that these garments (and some of the others) were Shaatnez. Yet rather than be forbidden, it was a mitzva for the Kohen Gadol to wear these garments. No contradiction here. He Who said not to wear Shaatnez, commanded the K.G. to wear these garments. He who said that it is forbidden to slaughter an animal on Shabbat, commanded that the daily korbanot and the Musaf be done on Shabbat. He is the Boss. Forbidding something in general and commanding the same thing in a specific situation underscores the idea of G-d's mastery of all.
Here's an idea about Shaatnez in general, and its use in the Kohen's garments in particular. This is not a reason for the prohibition of Shaatnez, nor for its use in Bigdei K'huna. It's just a point to ponder. Wool is the chief fiber from the animal kingdom. Flax is (or at least was) the chief fiber from the plant kingdom. Garments are the chief use of fibers. If so, we can say that one of the manifestations of human dominance over nature is our ability to take fibers from both plants and animals, process them and use them for our own benefit, comfort, and adornment. And taking the most prestigious of each kingdom, and weaving them together, and wearing garments made from the combination of wool and linen is one of the ultimate signs of our top position on the nature pyramid. Comes the Torah and tells us that we have limits. Yes, we may take from nature to clothe ourselves. But not limitlessly. Not the ultimate demonstration of complete dominance. Because WE do not completely dominate. Only G-d does. Perhaps, the prohibition of Shaatnez is a mitzva meant to humble us, and rein us in, if just a little.
But when G-d commands us to fashion garments for the Kohen Gadol for G-d's (and the KG's) splendor, then the opposite is seen. G-d told us to purposely go "all the way".
It might be similar to not building a private dwelling that matches or surpasses the beauty of the Beit HaMikdash. It might be similar in message to giving Bikurim and T'ruma, etc. Think about it.
There are different opinions as to how the names
of the tribes (really, it's the sons of Yaakov, rather than the tribes,
since Levi and Yosef appear, rather than Efrayim and Menashe) were engraved
on the Choshen (and the Eifodís shoulder stones).
Rambam has the same arrangement as Chizkuni, but he puts the names Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov on the Reuven stone, and the words Shivtei Kah on the Binyamin stone.
Note that in addition to the names of the tribes,
there are additional letters that spell the names Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov,
& Shivtei Yeshurun (another name for Bnei Yisrael). These additional letters
are added to each successive stone so that each stone will end up with six
letters engraved on it (according to Chizkuni).
Shlishi - Third Aliya - 14 p'sukim - 28:31-43
[S> 28:36 (8)] The TZITZ was to be made of pure gold with the words KODESH LASHEM, Holy unto G-d, hammered out as raised letters from the Tzitz. The Tzitz was secured to the Kohen Gadol's head by bands of T'cheilet wool.
The Kutonet - tunic and the Mitznefet (or Migba'at) - turban - were made of pure linen.
The Avneit, belt was woven from the wools and linen. There is a dispute as to whether only the Kohen Gadol's belt was Sha'atnez or those of all Kohanim as well.
SDT The Avneit was 32 Amot long, approx. 16m of belt. It took a long time to put on and it produced a large bulge that the Kohen always felt when he put his arms at his sides. Similarly, the Kohen's turban was wound from 16 Amot of linen strip and probably "sat heavy" on the kohen's head. Sources say that a kohen saw his turban whenever he raised his eyes. Similarly, the Kutonet was long sleeved and almost floor length, so the kohen always noticed his garments during Avoda. This "guaranteed" that the kohen would have proper Kavana during his sacred service.
For Aharon's sons (and all active kohanim), there were four garments - tunic, turban, belt, pants. The regular kohen's garments were also for honor and glory. Aharon and his sons were to be dressed in their garments and anointed to serve as kohanim. The linen pants of the kohanim, from waist to knees, was for modesty. Rambam says there were loops at the waist for a rope-belt. Rashi says the Michnasayim resembled boxer shorts in that they were not tight-fitting.
The Torah goes to considerable detail in describing the dressing of Aharon and his sons for the Kehuna. Earlier in the sedra was the command to make the garments - and that was counted as a mitzva among the 613. Here is the command to follow through with the garments by dressing the kohanim in them. Although this is also a command, it is NOT numbered among the Taryag Mitzvot. And neither is the command to anoint the kohanim. Sometimes, certain commands and the acts that follow when the commands are complied with, are considered to be part of the main mitzva to follow. Here, that might be the service in the Mishkan. The command to make the garments, on the other hand, stands on its own in such a way that it is numbered among the 613.
In response to our consecration of the Kohanim, HaShem Himself will sanctify the Mishkan, Altar, and Kohanim. "And I will dwell among the People of Israel and be their G-d" (29:45). This pasuk is the companion of the pasuk that began the whole portion of Mikdash. In that first pasuk, the idea of G-d living among us, so to speak, and not merely in the Sanctuary that we construct for Him, is alluded to by the grammar of the word in the pasuk - B'TOCHAM. In this pasuk at the end (almost) of the instructions for making the Mikdash and everything in it and about it, the matter is spelled out.
Rabbi Yaakov Auerbach z"l points out that the G'matriya of that whole pasuk is 2449, the year from Creation in which the Mishkan was first dedicated.
There is a dispute as to whether the Golden
Mizbei'ach was hollow or solid. All agree that the Copper Mizbei'ach was
hollow. It was filled with earth each time the people encamped. Not so, the
Gold Altar. Some say that it was a solid block of acacia wood, covered with
gold. This gave it a stability and strength it would not otherwise have.
Others insist that the description of the top of the Mizbei'ach as a GAG,
roof, implies it was hollow.
There is an interesting non-parallelism between sedra and haftara. The opening pasuk of the haftara carries a rebuke to the people for sins that caused the destruction of the first Beit HaMikdash. This becomes the context of the presentation of the future Mikdash. The sedra does not carry such a rebuke, but we know it is coming in the form of the Golden Calf and the subsequent focus on the building of the Mishkan. The Torah first presents the mitzva of Mikdash without the taint of the EIGEL HAZAHAV. Then comes Ki Tisa and the episode of the Calf. And then the detailed carrying out of the command to construct the Mishkan. Before we get to Ki Tisa, we can almost forget about the Golden Calf and its place in the "psychology of the Mishkan". The haftara's opening pasuk reminds us of what's to come.