The passuk states “And the sanctified clothes of Aharon shall be for his sons after him למשחה בהם” which Onkelos translates as “to make them great.” Also Onkelos translates שמן המשחה as “the oil of greatness.” What does “greatness” reflect? Rashi explains that all the anointing with the Mishkan, the Kohanim and kings are translated with the lashon רבו, great, since their anointing was specifically to elevate them and make them great.
The passuk states “And you shall make holy clothes for Aharon your brother and his sons, לכבוד ולתפארת which Onkelos translates as “for honor and for praise.” The Mi’at Tzuri explains that the clothing of the Kohanim are unique and special and deserve to be praised.
How do the clothes of the Kohanim bring out this greatness?
The Gemara asks: Why do the Talmidei Chachomim of Bavel stand out with their clothes? Rashi explains the Gemara’s answer, that when a Talmid Chachom is in the city where he dwells, he is recognized by his name and that alone brings him honor. However when a Talmid Chachom leaves Eretz Yisrael and goes into exile, no one knows who he is. Therefore he should dress with special honorable clothes to bring attention, and become recognized for his dignity. We see from here that clothing can bring out the dignity of a person.
The Gemara brings if a person sees himself falling into the yetzer hara’s trap, he should go to a place where people do not recognize him and dress in black clothes, do what his heart desires and not profane the name of Hashem in public. Rashi explains he should go there and if need be transgress the aveira where no one knows him so that he won’t profane Hashem’s name in public. The Rabbeinu Chananel explains differently, he certainly is not permitted to go to another place and sin, rather this is all to stop his yetzer hara. By going to another place he will weaken himself with the difficult trip, and he will humble himself since it is common for a guest to feel uncomfortable, and he won’t feel the desire to do as he wants. This is as Chazal say even a dog won’t bark for seven years when it is not in its own city. Also, he dresses in black clothes, like sack cloth, to belittle himself by reminding himself about mourning and death. Rav Hai Goan says he definitely will break his yetzer hara and will not be interested in sinning. We see that the clothing of a person can save one from sin.
The Mechaber brings in hilchos Yom Tov that one should have nicer clothing on Yom Tov than on Shabbos. The Mishnah Berura explains because on Yom Tov a person is obligated to rejoice, and wearing nice clothes brings a person happiness.
We see that clothes can brings a person dignity, help humble oneself, and bring happiness. Similarly, the Kohanim had special unique clothing which represented ruler ship and reminded them about their unique responsibility of serving in the Beis HaMikdash. Their special clothes were a constant reminder of their special avodah.
May Hashem return the Kohanim to their special clothes and avodah in the Beis HaMikdash!