Friday, March 02, 2007

On the Forehead

Regarding the Tzitz, one of the eight holy vestments worn by the High Priest in the Holy Temple, the Torah says[1], "and it shall be on the Mitznefes". However, Rashi notes[2] an apparent contradiction because the Torah also says[3], "And it shall be on the forehead of Aaron." The first verse implies that the Tzitz is supposed to be worn on top of the Mitznefes—the hat of the Kohen Gadol, while the second verse implies that the Tzitz is supposed to be worn on the forehead of the Kohen Gadol, which is below the hat area. Rashi explains that while the actual gold plate of the Tzitz with the inscription "Kodesh LaShem" rested on the forehead of the Kohen Gadol, the strings went up from that position and formed a hat-like structure attached to the Mitznefes. So Rashi understands that the Tzitz was actually on the forehead of the Kohen Gadol.


Others however argue. Onkelos translates[4] the word "maytzach", which Rashi understands means forehead, as "Beis einoyhee", meaning "the eye area", an expression used to describe the frontal hair area, whereupon one's phylacteries are supposed to rest[5]. Similarly, the Talmud uses[6] a special Scriptural derivation to teach that the Tzitz's position did not interfere with the wearing of the Tefilin because despite the fact they are both supposed to be worn in the same area, that area on the head has room for both. Rabbeinu Peretz[7] learns from here that the Tzitz is not necessarily placed on the forehead, but rather, it is placed above the hairline, like Tefilin. Tosafos[8] also understand that the Tzitz was not really worn on the forehead, but above the forehead, and this is why the Mitznefes hat of the Kohen Gadol had to be smaller than the Migba'os hat of the plain Kohen. Tosafos explains that this justifies the difference in the actual verses between the name of the Kohen's hat and the Kohen Gadol's hat.

See this picture. But I guess my fellow bloggers know better because they all say it was on the forehead.



[1] Exodus 28:37

[2] To Exodus 28:37

[3] Exodus 28:38

[4] Targum Onkelos to Exodus 28:38

[5] See Exodus 13:16, Deuteronomy 6:8, 11:18

[6] Zevachim 19b

[7] Cited by Shittah Mekubetzes §6 to Zevachim 19b

[8] To Gittin 7a

2 comments:

Eugene Gershin said...

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rabbi sedley said...

The picture doesn't seem to agree with what you are saying at all. Not only is the tzitz on the forehead, but there is no room for the tefilin.
BTW I am quite happy to just give Rashi's explanation in my summary - it is not meant to be a study of the topic. But I'll have to go back and check the gemara. I always thought the fact that the tefillin had to be above the tzitz were the proof that it was on the forehead.
Thanks for making me think

Rabbi Sedley

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