In the Torah Portion, Tetzaveh (Ex 27:20 – 30:10), we are introduced to the Levitical Priesthood and we learn about the special garments that they were to wear when serving in the Sanctuary.
For example in Exodus 28 we read:
40 “For Aaron's sons you shall make coats and sashes and caps. You shall make them for glory and beauty.
41 And you shall put them on Aaron your brother, and on his sons with him, and shall anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests.
42 You shall make for them linen undergarments to cover their naked flesh. They shall reach from the hips to the thighs;
43 and they shall be on Aaron and on his sons when they go into the tent of meeting or when they come near the altar to minister in the Holy Place, lest they bear guilt and die. This shall be a statute forever for him and for his offspring after him."
The Priests were servants of the living God and their garments added to the aesthetic dimension of the service of the sanctuary. These very special garments added to the beauty of the Sanctuary and added a sense of occasion, a sense of majesty that surely induced a reverence and a sense of ‘separateness’ (holiness) to any ceremonies and prayer that occurred there.
Adding the music (choirs of Levites singing psalms) would have increased the emotional impact and sense of specialness to the events in the Sanctuary. Thus, these priestly garments and associated rituals added a sense of holiness to the life of the Israelites and this in turn surely strengthened the peoples sense of loyalty and respect. Further these garments, etc., created a sense of reverence for the great majesty and power of the Almighty in their midst. They would surely have sensed they were in the presence of the King and acted appropriately with a strong sense of the sacred.
Such reverence in turn can lead to a strong sense of community, of a shared foundation and purpose, and a shared appreciation of the responsibility to maintain the collective vision and support each other. Thus again we see loyalty. Loyalty to Yehovah, loyalty to the ‘tribe’, loyalty to every member.
Marriages can’t survive without loyalty and respect.
Surely this is also true of all societies, of all communities and even nations. It is within this shared vision that justice and compassion can exist and be exercised with some reasonable degree of efficacy.
Loyalty means being prepared to make a stand for justice and truth on behalf of my family, my team or tribe and even my nation. Thus loyalty is a foundational aspect of morality. It seems then that the holiness of the priesthood and sanctuary induces reverence and respect with in turn generates loyalty and shared community values and in turn strengthens the moral fibre of a society.
Today it appears we are losing this aspect of holiness as we are losing the community practice of a shared faith and faith community with its rituals and ceremony that also induced reverence and respect. So I think that we are losing loyalty in turn and this is resulting in a serious loss of morality in general, from an increasing breakdown in relationships to a weakness evident in the growing number of people not prepared to stand up for truth, for free-speech, and against tyranny in general.
Holiness then leads to freedom. True freedom is the liberty and choice to seek the best for you, for your family; for your community, for your nation and for your world. This ‘liberty and choice’ grows and is enhanced by developing the ethical and moral aspects of loyalty, reverence and respect.
A personal reflection:
I left the mainstream church environment over a decade ago. I first ran Home Groups and helped start a couple of churches. I also co-started a Theological Seminar group that meet monthly and ran some annual National Conferences. I then took a sabbatical from all of this and have only recently started a family Shabbat Torah study and children’s Bible Study.
So have I lost that induced loyalty, respect and reverence for the sacred? No, I don’t think so. Perhaps I wouldn’t have the same sense of reverence if I have never partaken of the sacred with its rituals, but being away from it has not seen a loss of these values (in my opinion after some introspection).
I still seek to exhibit constant and empowering love, and to practice justice in my interactions and seek to live righteously in all things.
23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches,
24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” – Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV
For more on holiness please see https://globaltruthinternational.com/2015/03/21/you-shall-be-holy-introduction/
I do think that taken broadly, the clothing a culture endorses, along with the quality of language and discourse, and what is represented/popular in its music, written, and visual arts…is both effect and cause.