In 1603 CE, in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Polonius states that “apparel oft proclaims the man”. Even earlier, in 1500 CE, Erasmus wrote, as part of his Adages, “ornamental clothing makes the man”
This week we are given the details of the elaborate costume which the Cohen Gadol is to wear. This is elaborated in the Ma’reh Cohen Gadol section of the Yom Kippur service. It is certainly true that when we “dress up” for a formal occasion or to present ourselves at work or play we actually feel somewhat different, somewhat more important.
There is a saying from the Zohar, the mystical book of Kabbalah:
What does the fool see?
The outer garment of a person.
What does a wise man see?
The inner garment- the spirit.
At the beginning of the Sedra we are instructed to make a light with pure oil from crushed olives. When looking at our fellow men (and women), we should see that whether or not they are dressed for the occasion, or whether they have been crushed by events, we are all the same. We are all have the capacity to spread light on the world around us.