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Modesty for Cohanim


Rabbi Moshe Leib Halberstadt

Sivan 11, 5770
What is the Halacha regarding modesty for men who are cohanim? In what ways should cohanim strive for more modesty as compared to others if they live in a very religious community?
The Cohanim (priests) have a very important role in the spiritual leadership of the people of Israel. It says in the Torah about the tribe of Levi; “They shall teach Your ordinances to Jacob, and Your Torah to Israel” (Deuteronomy 33, 10). And in the book of Malachi (2, 7) it says; “For a Cohen’s lips shall guard knowledge, and teaching should be sought from his mouth, for he is a messenger of the Lord of Hosts”. Rashi explains - For a Cohen’s lips: It is incumbent upon them to guard knowledge. Why? Because teaching should be sought from his mouth, this matter has already been delivered to them “They shall teach Your ordinances to Jacob” (Deut. 33, 10). In Chronicles II (17, 8) are listed the names of the Cohanim and Levites that went out to teach Torah and instruct the people of Israel in the cities of Judea upon the order of King Jehoshaphat. Rashi explains that the reason is because it is incumbent upon the Cohanim and the Levites to teach and to instruct, as it is written (Deuteronomy 24, 8) “in accordance with everything the Cohanim, the Levites shall teach you”. Therefore it is very important that the Cohanim should keep a proper spiritual level and be role models to all, wherever they live. However I am not familiar with any law that has to do specifically with modesty of Cohanim, not regarding a difference between them and others on this subject, and not regarding the relevance of the community in which they live. All of Israel are obligated to the commandments of the Torah anywhere, anytime.
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