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Update: Designing the Garments of the Lay-Priests


Accompanying photographs appear below the article.


PRODUCTION OF THE SPECIALLY WOVEN LINEN FABRIC for the making of the lay-priests garments is in full swing. Concurrently, the Temple Institute has enlisted master clothing designer Aviad Jeruffi to help in the design of the garments. Jeruffi has spent fifteen years studying the art of creating biblical era garments at the feet of a Yemenite master of the discipline, who himself has received the ancient tradition from his elders.

MASTER DESIGNER JERUFFI can be seen in the photographs below modeling the priestly garments. The garments shown in the photographs are "mock-ups" only, and are not made with the "twined linen - shesh mushzar" that will be used in the actual garments when they are produced.

THE SPECIFIC MATERIALS AND LOOK OF THE GARMENTS ARE, of course, fixed by biblical command. Jeruffi's challenge is to make these garments as practical for use as possible, while staying well within the parameters set by Torah, and maintaining the honor and dignity of the wearer. The priests wore these raiments from dawn till dark. Their daily tasks were physical and strenuous, whether they were engaged with each morning's dawn patrol, involved in the preparation of animal offerings, tending to the altar fire, or inspecting the timber to be used to kindle the fire. Jeruffi is making the necessary design decisions that will guarantee for each individual priest maximum comfort and ease of movement.

ALSO PICTURED below is a mock-up of the unique multi-colored belt worn by the priests. The actual belts, made of wool and linen, (a blend otherwise forbidden by Torah), are woven of threads dyed with three Torah prescribed dyes: tola'at shani, (crimson), argamon, (purple), and techelet, (blue).

THE TEMPLE INSTITUTE will soon be sending an emissary to the marketplace of Istanbul, Turkey, to take advantage of the annual tola'at shani purchasing season. The tola'at refers to a particular mountain worm which has been identified as kermes biblicus.

TWO TRADITIONS EXISTS as to the origin of the argamon color also employed in the priestly belt. Some sources say that it can be derived from a plant source. Another tradition specifies that it must come from a snail, possibly the murex trunculus, (the same source as the blue techelet, the difference in color being a result of the amount of time the substance is initially exposed to sunlight). The Temple Institute's research department is presently studying both traditions for the purpose of making an informed determination as to which tradition will be followed for the production of the belts.

THE LAY PRIEST GARMENTS are to be adorned with embroidered embellishments. Here too a decision had to be made as to which method of embroidery is to be used. The Institute has decided that the garments will be beautified using the traditional embroidery techniques brought recently to Israel by the returning Ethiopian community. This time honored and unique method of embroidery is being carried on today in Israel by many Ethiopian women trained in the art.

FINALLY, A LEVIA - Levite's garment is also being designed by the Temple Institute. Torah does not prescribe a specific set of garments for the Levites to wear while serving in the Holy Temple. However, the Temple Institute has taken the initiative to design a special Levia to be worn by Levites in the upcoming Hak'hel ceremony that will take place later this year. The Hak'hel ceremony is described in Torah (Deuteronomy 31:12), and takes place in Jerusalem, (at the Holy Temple), at the conclusion of the shmitta, or sabbatical year, in which the land of Israel is allowed to rest. The Temple Institute is involved in efforts to convene the festive Hak'hel convocation.


Click here to view images described above.


If you are a kohen and would like to reserve a set of bigdei kehuna, please contact us.

Click here to learn more about the sacred garments of the High Priest and lay priests.

Click here to read a description and see photographs of the eary production stages.



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