Rabbi Elie Munk
- Call Of The Torah:
21. Garments of
skin. Our Sages differ on what "garments of skin" means. For some, they
are garments made of the skin of animals. For others, they are garments
for the skin, covering the skin but not the soul of man. Rabbi Yehudah
teaches that before the sin, man was enveloped in a halo of light. He
appeared in a majestic splendor before all the creatures of heaven and earth.
The Psalmist is referring to this sublime appearance when he exclaims, "Yet
You have made him but slightly less than the angels, and crowned him with soul
and splendor" (8:6). But, after the sin, the halo of glory which illuminated
man's spirit disappeared; man was left only with "the garment which covers his
skin." And this is also how to understand the Midrash (Bereishit Rabbah, 20)
which states: "The sefer - Torah of Rabbi Meir has garments of
light, instead of garments of skin, the two words
or and 'or
being homonyms. According to Rambam this version refers to the time before
the sin, when man was bathed in light.
The Midrash about Rabbi
Meir's sefer-Torah contains an additional idea, according to Rav Yehudah Leib
of Gora, Kalwaria, Poland. Not only the human body but, as it were, all
creation was clothed in "garments of skin" after the first sin. For man is
just the reflection of the macrocosm. Before the sin, all of nature was
inundated with the Divine light, which was of resplendent clarity to all
creatures. But after the sin, G-d withdrew to higher spheres and nature
became heavily veiled with "garments of skin." Man could only recognize G-d
through this garment which hid G-d from his eyes. The word 'or "skin"
has the same letters as the word
These "garments of skin" which envelop the whole universe make man blind. And
yet they are also katnot or "garments of light," since, despite
everything, they let the omnipotence of the Creator show through.
The human body, too, is
not a hermetically sealed outer cover, for it allows the soul sheltered within
to be glimpsed. But beware the one whose vides and moral degradation cause
the skin of his body to be covered with "a tumor, a scab, or a bright spot"
and thus obstruct the route leading to the soul. This man is declared
"If a person will have on the skin of his flesh, a
s'eis or a sapachas or a baheres...and declare him
contaminated" (VaYikra 13:2).
21 And Hashem G-d made for Adam
and his wife garments of glory on the skin of their flesh, and He
Onkelos translates the Biblical
phrase katnot 'or
as "garments of glory [worn] on the skin of their
The phrase "garments of
the skin," constitutes the basic translation, which is similar to th first
explanation presented by Rashi - rather than his second explanation, "garments
[made] of skin" (Nefesh HaGer). The
addition of "of glory," may reflect the Midrashic interpretation of R' Meir
(in Bereyshit Rabbah 20:12 that treats katnot 'or
as katnot or,
"garments of light" (Netinah LaGer).
21 From skin. Rashi
points out that the words katnot 'or can be interpreted in two ways:
either as garments on the skin or garments made from skin. If the former, it
refers to garments which cling to the skin as a nail to the finger. If the
latter, to garments made from animal skins or hides (REM). [Ariel Chumash]
12. AND THE
L-RD G-D MADE FOR ADAM AND HIS WIFE GARMENTS OF SKIN ('OR),
AND CLOTHED THEM (3:21).
In R. Meir's Torah it was found
written, ‘Garments of light (or)'
(2) : this refers to Adam's garments,
which were like a torch [shedding radiance], broad at the bottom and narrow at
Isaac the Elder said: They were
as smooth as a finger-nail and as beautiful as a jewel.
R.Johanan said: They were like
the fine linen garments which come from Betshean,
SKIN meaning those that are nearest to the skin.
R. Eleazar said: They were of
R. Joshua said: Of hares’ skin.
R. Jose b. R. Hanina said: It was
a garment made of skin with its wool.
Resh Lakish said: It was of
Circassian wool, and these were used [later] by first-born children.
R. Samuel b. Nahman said: [They
were made from] the wool of camels and the wool of hares,
SKIN meaning those which are produced from the skin.
R. Levi said: The Torah teaches
you here a rule of worldly wisdom: spend according to your means on food; less
than you can afford on clothing, but more than you can afford on a dwelling.
Spend according to your means on food, as it is written,
"Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat" (Bereyshit 2:16).
Less than you can afford on
clothing: AND THE LORD GOD MADE... GARMENTS OF SKIN, AND
CLOTHED THEM.(6) More than you
can afford on a dwelling: for lo! they were but two, yet they dwelt in the
whole world. (7)
(2) Or (light), instead of 'Or (skin).
(3) V. supra, 19:1.
(4) When they used to perform the sacrificial service, before the priests were
chosen for it; v. infra, 63:13; Bamidbar R. 4:8.
(5) Viz. the wool that comes off it.
(6) I.e. only simple, not expensive garments.
(7) Cf. Pes. 114a; Hul. 84b.
Section 2, p. 229b
As soon as he was driven
from the Garden of Eden and had need of forms suited to this world, “the Lord
God”, Scripture says, “made for Adam and for his wife garments of skin ('or),
and clothed them” (Bereishit 3:21). Formerly they were garments of light (or),
to wit, of the celestial light in which Adam ministered in the Garden of Eden.
For, inasmuch as it is the resplendency of the celestial light that ministers
in the Garden of Eden, when first man entered into the Garden, the Holy One,
blessed be He, clothed him first in the raiment of that light. Otherwise he
could not have entered there. When driven out, however, he had need of other
garments; hence “garments of skin”. So here also “they made residual garments
to minister in the holy place”, so as to enable the wearer to enter the
Sanctuary. Now, it has been already taught that a man's good deeds done in
this world draw from the celestial resplendency of light a garment with which
he may be invested when in the next world he comes to appear before the Holy
One, blessed be He. Appareled in that raiment, he is in a state of bliss and
feasts his eyes on the radiant effulgence. So Scripture says: “To behold the
graciousness of the Lord, and to visit early in his temple” (Tehillim 27:4).
Man's soul is thus attired in the raiments of both worlds, the lower and the
upper, thereby achieving perfection. Of this Scripture says: “Surely the
righteous shall give thanks unto thy name”; to wit, in this world-”The upright
shall dwell in thy presence” (Ibid. 140:14); namely, in the other world.’
Section 2, Page 210a-b
The righteous are
illumined by the reflection of that supernal resplendency, and on each New
Moon the glory of the Shekinah as revealed in that firmament transcends that
of other times. All the righteous then approach and prostrate themselves
before it. Happy is the portion of whoever is found worthy of those garments
wherein the righteous are clad in the Garden of Eden. Those garments are made
out of the good deeds performed by
a man in this world in obedience to the commands of the
Torah. In the Lower Paradise man's soul is thus sustained by these deeds and
is clad in garments of glory made out of them. But when the soul mounts up on
high through that portal of the firmament, other precious garments are
provided for it of a more exalted order, made out of the zeal and devotion
which characterized his study of the Torah and his prayer; for when that zeal
mounts up on high a crown is made out of it for him to be crowned with, but
some of it remains as the man's portion, out of which garments of
light are made for the soul to be clad in when it has ascended on
high. The former garments, as we have said, depend on his actions, but these
depend on his devotion of spirit, so as to qualify their owner to join the
company of holy angels and spirits. This is the correct exposition of the
matter as the Holy Lamp learned it from Elijah. The garments of the Lower
Paradise are made of man's actions; those of the celestia; Paradise of the
devotion and earnestness of