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Breastplate of Judgment - Choshen Mishpast & Urim V'Tumim

וְעָשִׂ֜יתָ ח֤שֶׁן מִשְׁפָּט֙ מַֽעֲשֵׂ֣ה חשֵׁ֔ב כְּמַֽעֲשֵׂ֥ה אֵפֹ֖ד תַּֽעֲשֶׂ֑נּוּ זָ֠הָ֠ב תְּכֵ֨לֶת וְאַרְגָּמָ֜ן וְתוֹלַ֧עַת שָׁנִ֛י וְשֵׁ֥שׁ מָשְׁזָ֖ר תַּֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה אֹתֽוֹ:

You shall make a choshen of judgment, the work of a master weaver. You shall make it like the work of the ephod; of gold, blue, purple, and crimson wool, and twisted fine linen shall you make it.


In Parshat Terumah, we learn about the instructions for building the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and the vessels that were to be used within it. Among these vessels were the Choshen Mishpat (Breastplate of Judgment) and the Urim V'Tumim, which were worn by the Kohen Gadol (High Priest).

The Choshen Mishpat was a breastplate made of colorful threads and precious stones, which was worn over the Kohen Gadol's heart. On it were twelve stones, each representing one of the twelve tribes of Israel. The Kohen Gadol wore the Choshen Mishpat when he entered the Kodesh Hakodashim (Holy of Holies) to seek divine guidance and make decisions on behalf of the people.

The Urim V'Tumim were special stones kept inside the Choshen Mishpat. The exact nature of the Urim V'Tumim is not entirely clear, but they were used to receive answers from God. The Kohen Gadol would ask a question, and the Urim V'Tumim would provide a response. Some believe that the stones were used as a type of divination, while others believe that they somehow illuminated the letters of the breastplate to form a message.

So what can we learn from the Choshen Mishpat and Urim V'Tumim? First, we see that the Kohen Gadol was tasked with making important decisions on behalf of the people. He had a direct line of communication with God and was able to seek divine guidance when needed. As we navigate our own lives, we too should strive to make decisions that are guided by a sense of higher purpose and seek guidance from sources of wisdom and inspiration.

Second, the fact that the Choshen Mishpat was adorned with precious stones representing each of the twelve tribes is a reminder of the importance of unity and connection among the Jewish people. Each tribe had its own unique qualities and strengths, but they were all part of a greater whole. Similarly, we should celebrate and embrace the diversity within our own communities and recognize that we are all interconnected.

Finally, the fact that the Urim V'Tumim were kept inside the Choshen Mishpat, close to the heart of the Kohen Gadol, is a reminder of the importance of maintaining a close connection with God. By keeping our faith close to our hearts, we can draw strength and guidance from a higher power as we navigate the challenges and joys of life.

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