"On its hem make pomegranates of blue, purple and crimson yarns, all around the hem, with bells of gold between them" Exodus 28: 33

By Rabbi Miriam Berger, February 10, 2011

Moses and Aaron's leadership starts out in a somewhat fantastical nature with pithy soundbites demanding the Israelites' freedom and miraculous happenings brought about by the waving of hands or the use of a staff. It is all about powerful words and exuberant displays of might.

They lead from the front, displaying their leadership qualities with the spectacle and power of being God's mouthpiece and the pomp and ceremony of the priesthood. Although Jethro shows Moses the wisdom of delegation, it is Parashat Tetzaveh which teaches both Moses and Aaron the importance of empowering others to step into leadership roles and to allow the people the opportunity of self-government, creating their own relationships with God.

In the case of Moses this is straightforward. Moses's name is mentioned in every portion throughout Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers except this one - where he allows the priestly leadership to take centre stage.

Yet for Aaron, this is more subtle. He is commanded to wear bells on the hem of his robes when officiating in order to be heard when entering the sanctuary.

Ibn Ezra points out the two possible translations, asking what should be heard: the sound of it, the bells or the sound of him, the priest? The bells are there to take the personality out of the role and make the actions, rituals and the worship central. Many people achieve a charismatic leadership which falls apart once they step out of their role, but here we are taught that real leadership places values and vision at the core.

Last updated: 10:47am, February 10 2011