By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, October 28, 2008

A beged is a garment in Hebrew and is usually used in the plural begadim, clothes. Whereas in English, "clothes" logically derives from the world "cloth," beged has a strange root. Boged is a traitor, one who has broken faith. Isaiah declares (24:16), "Woe is me, bogdim bagadu - the faithless have acted faithlessly."

What do clothes have to do with betrayal? Back in the idyllic days of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve did not wear any clothes as they "felt no shame" (Genesis 2:25). It was only after breaking faith with God and eating of the forbidden fruit that they "perceived that they were naked" (Genesis 3:7).

Betrayal and clothing entered human history simultaneously and continued to be interrelated. Rebecca dressed Jacob in Esau's clothes so that he could obtain the firstborn blessing in disguise. The garment that Jacob gave Joseph made his brothers hate him and was later soaked in a beast's blood as "evidence" of Joseph's death.

Leviticus details the High Priest's begadim and requires him to change his clothes several times during the Yom Kippur service. In the Temple, clothes are a source of dignity as they are today on Shabbat and special occasions.

There is truth to the old saying "The clothes maketh the man."

However, as fashion becomes more uniform and the pressure to conform grows stronger, it points to a degree of betrayal of oneself.

Last updated: 10:29am, October 28 2008