The Symbolism Of The Avnet

history kabbalah zohar Feb 24, 2021

Each of the kohanim’s splendid garments adorned a specific part of their bodies. Each of the additional garments and ornaments worn by the Kohen Gadol served a defined purpose: the choshen was made of twelve stones corresponding to the Twelve Tribes, the tzitz atoned for sacrifices brought in a state of impurity, and so on.

The exception is the avnet, the sash or belt, which doesn’t seem to have served any specific purpose. The other garments did not actually require a belt to hold them in place, and even the garments which might have benefited from a belt certainly did not need a 32-cubit long belt, which required the kohen to wrap it around himself repeatedly (see Rambam, Klei Hamikdash 8:19)!

The purpose of the avnet is simply to express the kohen’s “readiness” to serve before G-d, (unlike the other garments which are each associated with a particular mode and theme of Divine service, corresponding to a specific part of the body.) This is akin to the Talmudic directive (Shabbos 10a) to wear a belt when praying, in fulfillment of the words of Amos (4:12), “Prepare yourself to greet your G-d, O Israel,” for girding your body signifies that you have completed the necessary preparations and are now mentally ready to stand before and serve the King of all kings.

In light of that, the avnet—more so than the other garments—represents the general sense of submission to G-d with which the kohanim served in the Mishkan.

Accordingly, we can understand why the avnet was so long, requiring the kohen to wrap it around himself repeatedly. This symbolized the kohen’s absolute dedication to G-d: he girded himself not once, but again and again, until his sense of humble devotion before G-d was perfect and complete.

—Likutei Sichos vol. 36, pp. 155-159


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