February 6, 2014
Bells and Pomegranates
Our parsha tells us of the making of the clothing of the kohanim and the Kohen. Among the garments worn by the Kohen Gadol we find the Robe. Here is the pasuk with Rashi’s explanation:
33. And at the bottom hem (of the robe) you shall make pomegranates of blue, purple, and crimson wool, on its bottom hem all around, and golden bells in their midst all around. לג. וְעָשִׂיתָ עַל שׁוּלָיו רִמֹּנֵי תְּכֵלֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן וְתוֹלַעַת שָׁנִי עַל שׁוּלָיו סָבִיב וּפַעֲמֹנֵי זָהָב בְּתוֹכָם סָבִיב:
Rashi: Pomegranates: They were round and hollow, like a sort of pomegranate, shaped like hens’ eggs.
רמוני: עגולים וחלולים היו כמין רמונים העשויים כביצת תרנגולת:
and golden bells: Heb. וּפַּעִמֹנֵי זָהָב. [Golden] bells with the clappers inside them.
ופעמוני זהב: זגין עם ענבלין שבתוכם:
in their midst all around: [I.e.,] between them all around. [Meaning] between each of the two pomegranates, a bell was attached and suspended on the bottom hem of the robe.
Rashi weaves his words in between the Torah’s words. Its purpose is to dispel a wrong understanding of the verse.
One might have thought that the bells were placed INSIDE the pomegranates but Rashi states his view clearly – the bells were on the hem in between the pomegranates. They were not within each of the pomegranates.
This view is not held by all commentators. The Ramban, for example, disagrees with Rashi and says that the bells were, in fact, placed within the pomegranates themselves.
So why does Rashi insist that they were not?
If we look closely at verse 28:35. When the Torah speaks of this robe with its bells and pomegranates it says:
… and its sound shall be heard when he comes into the Holy place which is before Hashem and when he goes out so that he shall not die.
Certainly if the Torah wants the sound of the bells to be heard, it would be best to have them hanging out in the open. Were they to be placed inside the woollen pomegranates their sound would be muffled. This seems to support Rashi’s view of the position of the bells over that of the Ramban.
Rabbi Meir Wise