Why do people wear clothing? There's more to it than just covering up and keeping warm. In this week's Torah portion, we learn all about the special clothing worn by the Jewish priests, the Cohanim, who officiated in the Tabernacle. Their beautiful, and regal uniforms left no doubt in the eyes of all who saw them that they were involved in important, and spiritual tasks.
Whether we realize it or not, our clothing and our appearance also make a statement to the world, and give a message about who we are and what we value. It is, in a sense, our own private uniform. When deciding how to dress, we should consider carefully the image we present to the world, and do our best to align it with our true inner values.
In our story, a boy grapples with his choice of wardrobe...and his identity.
"DRESSED FOR SUCCESS"
"Mmm ... this pizza actually looks pretty good," thought Gary, as he carried his lunch tray over to a nearby table to sit down. He recognized a couple of the kids sitting there from his science class, and hoped that maybe he would get to know them better.
He had been in this new school for nearly a month already, and though he was an outgoing kid, he just hadn't seemed to be able to make any friends.
Gary put his tray down, and went to get a napkin and straw. But when he got back, he couldn't believe it - the nearly full table had totally cleared out. Not one guy was left. Could everyone have really finished eating at the same time, just like that?
"Oh well. Another lonely lunch," he thought. The boy quickly finished his meal. He got up, and headed for the playground, zippering up his black leather motorcycle jacket on the way out.
He noticed a few kids from his class playing basketball at the far end of the schoolyard. "Maybe I'll shoot a few baskets with those guys." He walked over that way, but right before he got there, the guys broke up their game, and just seemed to disappear into thin air.
"That's weird," thought Gary, scratching his spiky hair. "If I didn't know better, I'd think no one around here likes me..." But before he could finish his thought, he heard someone shouting his name.
"Gary Summers! Is that really you?" It was Harold, an old friend from his former school.
"Hey Harold, do you go to this school too? When you moved away last year, I figured you dropped off the planet, or something."
Harold laughed. "Nope. I'm just here. How's it going?"
Gary shrugged, and sighed. "I'll tell you the truth, I really can't stand it here. I haven't made one friend, and all the teachers treat me like I'm some kind of troublemaker, even though I've been on my best behavior."
Harold gave his friend a long look, and nodded sympathetically. "Let's take a walk," he said.
The two old friends made small talk, and caught up on old times. After a while Harold cleared throat, and got to his point. "You know, Gary, I think I know what might be behind your problems here."
Gary perked up as his friend went on. "It's your new look. That spike haircut and those tough-looking clothes are giving people the wrong message."
Gary felt himself getting upset. "What do you mean? There's no dress code here. Why should people care how I dress? It's what's inside that counts!" he asserted.
"Yes ... and no." countered Harold. "You and I know you're a nice guy, but that get-up you're wearing, says 'trouble - stay away.' Our old school was so big that nobody stood out, no matter how they dressed, but around here the only kids who dress like you are real bad news. You have to expect that's the way people are going to view you. Trust me. Come to school tomorrow looking a bit more toned down, and I guarantee you'll have a much better day."
The bell rang, and the kids had to go back to class. Gary was glad. He had heard enough from his friend. Nobody could tell him how to dress. If people couldn't handle it, it was their problem.
Gary made his way to geometry class. But as he sat down he could almost feel the kids around him inching away. He looked at them. They really did look nervous having him around. Could Harold actually be right?
The next morning, Gary started heading out to wait for the school bus and grabbed his motorcycle jacket. Suddenly his friend's words echoed in his mind. "I guess I really don't have to wear this jacket", he thought, grabbing a blue sweater instead.
He glanced over at the mirror on the way out. His hair did look pretty scary. On a whim, Gary combed down some of the spikes from his hair and parted it to the side.
He ran to catch the bus, and something strange happened. For the first time since he had started school, a kid sat down next to him. "Hi. Aren't you new around here?" he asked.
That was the beginning of the best day Gary had since he started school. He made a lot of new friends that day, and came to realize that while maybe "clothes don't make the man," they sure do make a difference.
Rabbi Rosenwasser (middle school Judaics teacher) wanted to share the above D'var Torah (written by Nesanal Yoel Safran from aish.com) with the TASA community.