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Tetzave. Who is Hiding Under Your Mask?

Do the Clothes Make the Man? Our Parsha talks about clothing, the garments of the High Priest. And it seems so appropriate to be reading about the elaborate and ornate vestments of the Kohein Gadol at Purim time. After all, the Purim story is narrated, amongst other literary devices, by means of clothing:

4:1 “Mordecai rent his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and he went out into the midst of the city and cried [with] a loud and bitter cry.”

5:1 “On the third day, Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace”

6:7-8 “For the man whom the king delights to honor, let a royal robe be brought which the king has worn… and a royal crown placed on his head”

8:15 “Mordechai went out … in royal apparel of blue and white, with a great crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple; and the city of Shushan rejoiced and was glad”

Sackcloth and ashes are transformed into royal clothing, expressing the doom and genocide that is suddenly transformed to rejoicing. And of course, we mask ourselves on Purim, donning all manner of costume.

But are clothes in fact masks? Is clothing something which expresses my true essence, or perhaps it obscures and hides the real person? In Hebrew, the word “beged” – a garment – bears the same letters as “bagad” – indicative of betrayal or subterfuge.