The passuk states “ועשית על שוליו רמני… על שוליו סביב ופעמני זהב בתוכם סביב and you shall make on its bottom, pomegranates… on its bottom around, and gold bells בתוכם around.” What does the Torah mean, to make gold bells בתוכם? Onkelos translates בתוכם as “ביניהון between them.” The Nesina LaGer says, this is as Rashi explains, the bells were placed between the pomegranates around the me’il. The pomegranates were round and hollow in the shape of pomegranates. On the bottom of the me’il one bell was hung between every two pomegranates.
The Ramban explains differently, the bells were literally placed inside the pomegranates, before they were put on the me’il. They were in the shape of small closed pomegranates, hollowed out, and the bells were placed and seen inside of them.
In Parshas Pekudei it states, “ויתנו את הפעמנים בתוך הרמונים על שולי המעיל סביב בתוך הרמנים and they put the bells בתוך the pomegranates on the bottom of the me’il בתוך the pomegranates.” Onkelos translates בתוך as “בגו within.” The Nesina LaGer says, this seems to be in accordance with the Ramban (כח, לא), that the bells were placed inside the pomegranates. The Nesina LaGer is bothered, according to Onkelos were the bells put between the pomegranates or inside them?
The Nesina LaGer answers, the lashon בגו can mean literally being inside of something else, and can also mean being within other beings or things. The Mahari Kurkus adds, this is as it states “בתוך הבאים” which Onkelos translates as “within the enterings.” The brothers entered Mitzrayim amongst other people, not inside anyone. Also it states “בתוך מטותם” which Onkelos translates as “within their staffs.” Aharon’s staff was amongst the other staffs.
The passuk states “והיה על אהרן לשרת ונשמע קולו בבאו אל הקדש לפני ה’ ובצאתו ולא ימות and it, the me’il, shall be on Aharon to serve and its noise shall be heard when he enters the Kodesh before Hashem and when he exits, and he won’t die.” What noise shall be heard, and what was the purpose of this noise? Also why is this necessary when he enters and when he leaves? The Rabbeinu Bachya explains, the sound of the me’il refers to the sound the bells make when moved. It is proper conduct to knock before entering before the King, and not to come in suddenly. The bells functioned as knocking before entering into the Mishkon. Also its noise was in order to let it be known that the Kohen Gadol wants to enter. Although Hashem knows everything, and also the angels before Him know everything, it was a warning for the angels to leave and clear away space for the beloved one of the King to enter and serve Hashem. So too when the Kohen Gadol left it made noise as though notifying the angels that he was finished with his service and they are able to return to serve before Him.
What message can we take from the me’il? The Gemara brings, Rebbi Akiva commanded his sons: do not enter into your house suddenly. The Vayikra Rabbah explains as it might scare someone. The Rashbam brings another reason from the Vaykira Rabbah, a person should make noise before entering his house as maybe someone inside is doing something private. When Rebbi Yochanan would enter his house he would make noise, which he learned from the passuk about the Kohen Gadol “ונשמע קולו בבואו אל הקודש.”
May we be zoche to once again have the pomegranates and bells on the me’il of the Kohen Gadol with the rebuilding of the Bais HaMikdash.