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  Ki Tisa
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28:30 Place the Urim and Thumim in the decision breastplate, and they shall be over Aaron's heart when he comes before God. Aaron will then carry the decision-making device for the Israelites before God at all times.
Venatata el-choshen hamishpat et-ha'urim ve'et-hatumim vehayu al-lev Aharon bevo'o lifney Adonay venasa Aharon et-mishpat bney-Yisra'el al-libo lifney Adonay tamid.
28:31 Third Reading
Make the robe that is [worn under] the ephod completely out of sky-blue wool.
Ve'asita et-me'il ha'efod klil tchelet.


Urim and Thumim
  Usually translated as 'lightings and perfections,' since the message shone forth and was then perfected by the High Priest. The Urim and Thumim would be consulted like an oracle; the High Priest would meditate on the stones until he reached a level of divine inspiration. He would see the breastplate with inspired vision, and the letters containing the answer would appear to light up or stand out. With his divine inspiration, the High Priest would then be able to combine the letters to spell out the answer (Yoma 73b; Ramban; Bachya on Numbers 28:21; cf. Handbook of Jewish Thought 6:36).

Some say that the word Thumim has the connotation of pairing, since it was the inspiration that allowed the priest to arrange the letters to spell out a message (Bachya on Numbers 28:21). Others say that the message was called Thumim (perfect) because it was irrevocable (Midrash HaGadol; cf. Yoma 73b).

Josephus writes that when the Israelites went to battle, the stones would shine forth with great splendor as a sign of victory (Antiquities 3:8:9).

The Septuagint translates Urim and Thumim as dylosis khai alytheia, where dylosis denotes pointing out, manifestation, or explanation, and alytheia means truth. According to this, the root of Urim may be yarah, to teach.

As far as the nature of the 'Urim and Thumim' that were placed in the breastplate, some say that they consisted of mystical divine names of God (Targum Yonathan; Rashi; Rashbam; Ramban; Zohar 2:234b). Some say that these names were placed inside the fold of the breastplate (Rashi). Others, however, maintain that they were placed on the outside of the breastplate and that the priest would meditate on these names to attain inspiration (Me'or Eynayim 46).

According to others, the Urim and Thumim were the engraved stones themselves (Lekach Tov; Ralbag; Otzar HaGeonim, Berakhoth 6; cf. Josephus, Antiquities 3:8:9), but some emphatically reject this (Radak, Sherashim). Some maintain that the Urim and Thumim were the borders of the tribes (Bekhor Shor; Hadar Zekenim) or astrological signs (Ibn Ezra; cf. Ramban, Ralbag).

Philo (Vide de Muse 2:152) writes that the Urim and Thumim were two agalmatophory representing revelation and truth. The word agalmatophory is taken from agalma, an image or portrait, and phory, an ornament. The two images may have been the lion and eagle woven into the breastplate itself (see note on Exodus 28:15).

  (Targum). Literally, 'to.'

  Meil in Hebrew. Some say that it had sleeves (Raavad, Kley HaMikdash 9:3; Rabbenu Meyuchas; Siddur Rav Saadia Gaon, p. 271; cf. Rashi on Exodus 29:4) while others maintain that it was sleeveless (Yad, Kley HaMikdash 9:3; Midrash HaGadol; cf. Josephus, Antiquities 3:7:4).

According to many, the meil was a closed robe that was slipped over the head (Rashi; Rashbam; Rabbenu MeYuchas). It was woven as a single garment without seams (Josephus, Wars 5:5:7), and had an opening parted along the chest and back for the head (Antiquities 3:7:4). Others say that it was a simple robe, open down the front (Saadia).

Others, however, maintained that it was open in front like a large sleeveless cape, and only closed at the neck (Ramban; Lekach Tov; see Avraham ben HaRambam).

According to another opinion, the meil was a long rectangular piece of cloth with a hole in the middle for the head, very much like a long tallith katan (Ralbag; Tifereth Yisrael, Kelelay Bigdey Kodesh). According to some, it hung in front and back (ibid.), while others maintain that it hung on both sides (Radbaz on Yad, Kley HaMikdash 9:3).

The meil came down to the priest's feet (Josephus, Antiquities 3:7:4; Wars 5:5:7; Philo, De Vida Musa 2:118-121).

worn under
  (Rashi; Midrash HaGadol; Yad, Kley HaMikdash 10:3).

completely out of...
  (Rashi; Radak, Sherashim; Zevachim 88b). Or, 'woven in one piece' (cf. Targum Yonathan; Josephus Wars 5:5:7).

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