Photo Credit: Asher Schwartz

In this week’s Parsha (28:4), we learn about the ornaments and vestments that were worn by Aharon the kohen Gadol in his service to Hashem. One of the articles that he wore was the choshen, the breastplate, which he wore on his heart.

Inscribed on the breastplate were the names of each of the twelve tribes representing the Jewish people, symbolizing the fact that a leader holds his people near and close to his heart.


However, there was another piece of clothing called the eifod, and on the eifod were shoulder straps. Emblazoned and inscribed on the shoulder straps were the names of each of the twelve tribes again. There is a question here. Was it not enough for Aharon to have the Jewish people on his heart? Why the shoulders too?

I heard from my father Rav Yitzchok Fingerer shlita that the Be’er Mayim Chaim answers so beautifully that no, it’s not sufficient to hold someone close to your heart. Sometimes, you’ve got to lift the person. Sometimes you’ve got to raise the person. There are some people that are drowning physically or spiritually who need to be saved.

How do you save someone? Firefighters, soldiers, and lifeguards put the person on their shoulders. To save someone you’ve got to raise them up. You’ve got to lift them. You’ve got to elevate them. You’ve got to take them and change them.

In South America, there was a slaughterhouse – a massive operation and one night the boss came in and asked the security guard why he hadn’t yet locked up the facilities. The security guard replied that not everyone had left. The boss said, “What do you mean? I walked through the whole plant and it’s a ghost town. No one is here. It’s empty!
The security guard said it’s not empty. The boss asked the guard who he thought may still be in there and the guard replied, “The Rabbi, the Mashgiach (head of kosher supervision) is still in there. The Rabbi worked here for 23 years and as long as he’s worked here for 23 years, and when he left for the night he always said to me ¡Buenas noches! (have a good evening). He always took an interest in me and smiled at me. Tonight, the rabbi did not say ¡Buenas noches¡.Tonight, the rabbi did not wish me a good evening. That means that he is still here”. The boss replied, “Listen, I checked and it’s empty. Lock up the place! The guard said, “I refuse to!”

The guard went and started to check. He went from room to room until he finally went down to the freezers, and he heard moaning and groaning. He opened the freezer and he saw the rabbi – he had hypothermia and was frozen on his last breath. He was almost dead. He had gotten locked in the freezer. The guard called medical personnel and they resuscitated and revived the rabbi. The rabbi’s life was saved and Baruch Hashem he was able to return to his beautiful family.

Why was his life saved? Because he treated the security guard as someone important. He treated the guard as someone elevated! He cared about him; he didn’t only have him on his heart but also on his shoulders. He treated the guard as someone special and unique. That’s what we must try to do. Instead of holding someone close to your heart, sometimes you must put them on your shoulders. You must raise them up. Sometimes you’ve got to save them!

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Aryeh is the publisher of Parsha Knowledge, a weekly newsletter with Torah thoughts, stories, and inspiration on the weekly Parsha. Visit