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“On the Robe's hem they made pomegranates of turquoise, purple, and scarlet wool, twisted. They made bells of pure gold, and they placed the bells amid the pomegranates on the hem of the Robe, all around, amid the pomegranates. A bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate on the hem of the Robe all around, to minister, as Hashem commanded Moshe" (Shemos 39:24-26).
The Gemara says (Arachin 16a) that the Robe brought forgiveness for lashon hara (slandering): “Let something which has a sound come and forgive something which has a sound.” The intention here is that since lashon hara is violated by speaking and making a sound, therefore it is fitting that the Robe, which has bells on its hem which make a sound, should be the tool of forgiveness.
I think that perhaps there is a deeper meaning to the relationship of the two.
The purpose of the bells is explained in a previous chapter. “It must be on Aharon in order to minister. Its sound shall be heard when he enters the Sanctuary before Hashem and when he leaves, so that he not die.”
The Ramban explains that the function of the bells is to announce that the Kohen Gadol wants to enter into the Sanctuary of the King of Kings, and it is not polite to enter a king’s chambers without permission (“ringing the bell”) first. This was elucidated by Queen Ester who told Mordechai, “All the King's servants, and the people of the King's provinces, know, that whoever, whether man or woman, shall come to the King into the inner court, who is not called, there is a law; to put him to death…” (Ester 4:11). Consequently, the bells of the Robe of the Kohen Gadol express his understanding of proper inter-relationships between him and Hashem. Similarly, one who is thoughtful concerning proper relationships between man and his fellow man will give the other the benefit of the doubt and not be quick to judge him and slander him to another.
A very interesting sefer (book) just came out recently, called Derech Sichah. In it, Rabbi Eliyahu Man shlita records the contents of many of his conversations with the Gaon, Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlita (son of the Steipler Gaon ztvk”l). Among the stories is a great lesson in human relationships and giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, even when it seems very farfetched.
A teacher in cheider (elementary grades for boys) came a quarter of an hour late to class. One of the students immediately approached him and showed him his watch. The rebby was infuriated and gave the boy a quick slap in the face for his insolence.
Later in the day, the boy’s mother complained to the teacher for hitting her son. The surprised rebby asked her if she does not agree that the boy deserved to be punished for his unmitigated chutzpah (impudence). To his shock, the woman replied, “I don’t understand what you’re talking about. My son loves you very much. He even considers you his best friend. His father bought him a new watch and he was looking forward to showing it to you. He waited impatiently for your arrival, and when you finally came, he ran over to share his joy with you, expecting you to congratulate him. Instead, he received a smack in the face – something totally beyond his and my comprehension!”
Rav Kanievsky said that the Rebby has to appease the child who meant no wrong and was punished for no reason. He also mentioned that unless there was some emergency, the Rebby should not have been late for class. That is much more serious than a student coming late.
If we give people the benefit of the doubt, we will be saved from many embarrassing situations and we will be truly happy in this world and in the World-to-Come.
Shema Yisrael Torah Network