Parshat Tetzaveh: High Fashion

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Haute Couture
13 Feb 2008
Arts & Media

They’ve been around a while.

Ever since we became self-conscious

Back when we left the Garden, blushing.


Those weren’t bought off-the-rack and

Neither were they particularly haute or haughty –

After all, everyone was wearing the same thing.


But things have since evolved and today is

Where we’re at – or, more punitively, wear we’re at.




A tale of high fashion and higher reality

(Would someone who spins such a tale be a tailor?):

Holy priests wearing holy clothing,

The needle of earth perpetuating the thread of heaven:

Stitch by stitch, bit by bit, it moves along.

No pinpricks here nor a tear on a cheek or sleeve: nothing

That can’t be mended and made complete.

Sowing much more than just a garment

Much more than a simple cloth –

Sowing a soul, a dream, a promise.


Some wear clothing; others, clothing wears them




Not these: you wear them up and they wear you

Up, bring you up, shake you up and stand you up.

Garment districts and garment bags?

Not here – these are way beyond such hangers and hang-ups.

These are tailor-made to fit the contour of soul just as much

As the contour of body.


A High Priest, a conduit of love and peace, dressed to will,

To will humanity to perfection; loving peace and pursuing peace.


Does clothing make the man or man the clothing?

In this Holy Temple, the clothing makes the man divine

And the man makes the clothing divine.


One might say this is the greatest fashion statement of all.


White and gold, blue and scarlet, fine twined linen

The color and texture of a priestly blessing.


Couture and culture, fad then fade:

Like a sleeve turned inside-out most fashions move in and out

Of style.


But these are permanent, designed by the ultimate designer

Manufactured in the omnipotent factory

Worn but never worn out.




And there are stones:

Gems priceless in spirit

Invaluable in holiness

Shining with truth; gleaming with the Divine

Cut with true precision.


And you shall command the children of Israel

That they shall take for you pure olive oil

Crushed for the light-source

To kindle the lamp continually.


How else does one dress to light

A world, a soul, a menorah

If not in high fashion?

Mendel Jacobson is a writer, poet and journalist living in Brooklyn. His weekly poetry can be seen at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.