who wear the priestly vestments not during the performance of their service ... are subject to Malkos
("Stripes"), for the avneit
(the cincture, or belt) was made of shatnez
, a prohibited admixture of wool and linen); only during times of actual service are they permitted to wear it, for at that time it is a positive command to do so, similar to tzitzis
[which may also be made out of shatnez
Why is it permissible for the priestly service in the Sanctuary and Beis HaMikdash to be performed while wearing a garment containing shatnez? Additionally, why can the mitzvah of tzitzis be performed with a garment of shatnez?
The Bachya offers a mystical explanation for the prohibition of shatnez: "He who establishes progeny by combining two opposite kinds brings about strife, for he commingles the supernal powers ... The two born first (Kayin and Hevel) were kelayim, one emanating from the spirit of goodness, the other from the spirit of evil. We are to be drawn towards the spirit of holiness, distancing ourselves from evil that emanates from the spirit of unholiness. Thus kelayim is forbidden to us for it combines two opposite extremes ... whose combination does not sit well...
"We have therefore been prohibited kelayim ... Kayin and Hevel offered wool and linen, one wool, the other linen. We have therefore been prohibited from combining the two ... He who wears such a garment commingles the supernal powers...."
The Bachya's rather lengthy explanation alludes to two ways of understanding the prohibition of kelayim:
One manner of the prohibition involves mingling the "spirit of goodness" with the "spirit of evil," similar to Kayin and Hevel. In light of the above, the Tzemach Tzedek explains that with regard to the commingling of the divine attributes kelayim does not apply, since within the realm of holiness "all is unity ... it is all of one kind, entirely nullified and subservient to Him."
A second form of the prohibition according to the Bachya: "commingling supernal powers" is also against G-d's will. This is in keeping with a simpler explanation offered by the Bachya that "G-d decreed with regard to Creation that each be 'to its kind.' He who combines different kinds ... opposes G-d's will, as He desired that all of creation be 'to its kind.'"
So, too, with regard to the more mystical aspect of kelayim: "commingling supernal powers" makes for a "fusion of two opposite extremes ... whose unification does not sit well."
According to this explanation, we must say that unlike "commingling supernal powers," the fusion and melding of the divine attributes in no way constitute spiritual kelayim. For kelayim only results when the merger negates "to its kind," i.e., when the two kinds integrate in a manner that each ceases to be of its former "kind." With regard to the divine attributes, however, none of them are negated; each one retains its identity and merely combines aspects of the other.
By way of example: Each of a king's ministers has his own role and task. Surely, the king desires that all his ministers not only work harmoniously, but that each of them (as part of his particular role) assist the others in the fulfillment of their tasks. Clearly, each of them is to manage his particular area and not mix into the others' business; should he do so, he is not fulfilling his task and the king is displeased.
According to the above explanations, we understand why kelayim is permitted in tzitzis and in the priestly vestments:
According to the first explanation that kelayim is prohibited because it mingles the "spirit of goodness" with the "spirit of evil," this does not apply to tzitzis and the priestly vestments, since "the sanctity is there so sublime that unholiness has absolutely no power at all." That is to say, performing these mitzvos with kelayim involves no mingling of good and evil, as the holiness here is so great that there is absolutely no aspect of evil.
According to the second explanation that even disparate supernal powers are not to be mingled, tzitzis and priestly vestments, however, are so uniquely holy that they can indeed meld, for "at an extremely lofty degree, even opposites can unite."
This is similar to the "peace made on high" by G-d, whereby "Michoel, the archangel of 'water' (kindness) and Gavriel, the archangel of 'fire' (severity), do not extinguish one another." This does not result from Michoel and Gavriel themselves, for as they are opposites they cannot truly unite, rather, it stems from G-d who is above them both.
To illustrate: When a king's ministers stand before him, they feel themselves not at all, they are only aware of the king. They are thus able to stand together in complete harmony.
So, too, service in the priestly vestments and tzitzis are so lofty, emanating from G-d's Essence, that opposites can indeed combine.
Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXXVI, pp. 153-158.
- (Back to text) Conclusion of Hilchos Kelayim.
- (Back to text) Vayikra 19:19.
- (Back to text) Or HaTorah on Nach p. 132. See also Lo Silbash 5678.
- (Back to text) See Zohar, Vol. III, p. 86b.
- (Back to text) Quoting the Ramban, Vayikra ibid. See also Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXIX, p. 125ff.
- (Back to text) Or HaTorah, Tetzaveh.
- (Back to text) Iyov 25:2.
- (Back to text) Bamidbar Rabbah, 12:8 and additional sources cited there.
- (Back to text) See Toras Chayim, Chayei Sarah (130b).