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Non-Uniform Uniforms- Parshat Tzav/Purim  

All over the world, people wear uniforms. Police, lawyers, nurses, doctors, athletes, fire fighters, soldiers, judges, and many, many more. Even on Purim, people wear uniforms. Albeit someone else’s uniform, but still a uniform. Even Mordechai was to be dressed in the kingly uniform while being paraded through town.There are many, many reasons given for the need to wear uniforms and for why wearing uniforms help. I will highlight just one point – that wearing uniforms creates a sense of unity among the wearers and you become part of a larger group. You donate your presence to the group goal as in a baseball team or a surgical team.

The danger in that is the possibility of losing your own identity to that of the group. This is why I found particularly fascinating this week’s commandment about the priestly clothing. The Torah has proscribed that the priestly clothing was to be a white 4-piece uniform.1 Yet, in Parshat Tzav the Torah felt a need to point out that it was to be individually measured.2 Even though the uniform was uniformed, it needed to be individually measured. The individual is not to be lost. As opposed to the infamous Bed of Sedom where if you didn’t fit you were stretched until you fit or your legs were shortened in order to fit the bed, in order to serve God the individual priest must not be forgotten.

What an important concept for us to learn. Whether we are part of a group or the leader we must not forget this. Certain educational systems have forgotten this concept and try to fit kids into their concept of what education is and they do not see the beauty and uniqueness of each individual child. Other systems, however,  trumpet the individuality of the student. Work places have shown less or more flexibility towards individual workers and their needs. Even families need to take into account the various needs of its different members while trying to raise everyone to their own individual maximum.

How sad for the individual who gets forgotten, criticized or even castigated because they don’t fit in. They are given a uniform that doesn’t fit and are criticized for not fitting in. At least let us not forget them when we can. They are here for a reason3 and may need help to realize that purpose.

Let us remember the lesson of giving everyone a uniform that fits. And let the person develop and grow into his own individual uniform.

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  1. Shemot 28:40-42
  2. Vayikra 6:3
  3. Everyone has a purpose in life – whether they realize it or not. This is also a major principle in Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy.