Choshen: theme and variations


Tetzaveh / תצוה : SHMOT (EXODUS) Exodus  27:20-30:10 (link to the text on Sepharia)

The Cohanim, being Aaron and his descendents, wore special garments when performing their duties. The high priest (“Kohen Gadol,” of whom Aaron was the first) wore additional garments as well. These were not only to mark him as the high priest.

The high priest wore an apron (“Eiphod”) of colorful, precious fabric. On the straps of the garment he wore two stones, each of which was inscribed with the names of six of the twelve tribes.

On top of that, and attached to the straps of the Eiphod, the high priest wore the Choshen (pronounced “KHohshen”). It was made of the same colorful cloth as the Eiphod. It contained four rows of precious stones, each of which represented one of the tribes. On each corner there was a gold ring used to attach it to the Eiphod.

The “urim” and “tumim” were then placed by Moshe Rabbeinu in Choshen. It is not entirely clear what these were, and I do not consider myself to be an expert. Rather than attempt to summarize, I highly recommend that you read as much of the traditional commentary to Exodus 28:29-30 as you can. Scroll down from that link to get to the English translations; not everything on Sefaria.com is translated, but much is and more is all the time.

This week we make the Choshen. You can try to get the colors as exact as possible (in which case I highly recommend the jelly bean option; unless you have a classroom full of children, or simply love and can use lots of fruit, you may not want to buy 12 different types of fruit just for the colors). You can focus on how the Choshen reminded the Kohen Gadol whom he represented before G-d. You can focus on how, exactly, it was used. Or all of the above. The text is immediately below; below that you will find a chart with the type of stone and the color (when it is a real stone).

Do not attempt to write anything on the “stones” if you are making this Nosh on Shabbat.

Text and Translation from Sefaria.com.  Exodus 28:1 et seq.  Translation from Bold Onkelos commentary, Metsudah Pub., 2009

1And [now separate] and take unto you your brother, Aharon, and his sons with him, from among the B’nei Yisrael, to serve [before] Me [as kohanim]: Aharon, Nadav, Avihu, Elazar, and Isamar, the sons of Aharon.וְאַתָּה הַקְרֵב אֵלֶיךָ אֶת־אַהֲרֹן אָחִיךָ וְאֶת־בָּנָיו אִתּוֹ מִתּוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לְכַהֲנוֹ־לִי אַהֲרֹן נָדָב וַאֲבִיהוּא אֶלְעָזָר וְאִיתָמָר בְּנֵי אַהֲרֹן׃
2Make sacred garments for your brother, Aharon, for honor and splendor.וְעָשִׂיתָ בִגְדֵי־קֹדֶשׁ לְאַהֲרֹן אָחִיךָ לְכָבוֹד וּלְתִפְאָרֶת׃
3Speak to all who are wise in heart, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, and have them make Aharon’s garments, to sanctify him to serve [before] Me [as kohein].וְאַתָּה תְּדַבֵּר אֶל־כׇּל־חַכְמֵי־לֵב אֲשֶׁר מִלֵּאתִיו רוּחַ חׇכְמָה וְעָשׂוּ אֶת־בִּגְדֵי אַהֲרֹן לְקַדְּשׁוֹ לְכַהֲנוֹ־לִי׃
4These are the garments that they shall make: a breastplate, an eiphod, a robe, a checkered undershirt, a turban and a sash-belt. Have them make sacred garments for your brother Aharon, and for his sons, to serve [before] Me [as kohanim].וְאֵלֶּה הַבְּגָדִים אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשׂוּ חֹשֶׁן וְאֵפוֹד וּמְעִיל וּכְתֹנֶת תַּשְׁבֵּץ מִצְנֶפֶת וְאַבְנֵט וְעָשׂוּ בִגְדֵי־קֹדֶשׁ לְאַהֲרֹן אָחִיךָ וּלְבָנָיו לְכַהֲנוֹ־לִי׃
9Take two shoham [onyx] stones and engrave on them the names of the B’nei Yisrael.וְלָקַחְתָּ אֶת־שְׁתֵּי אַבְנֵי־שֹׁהַם וּפִתַּחְתָּ עֲלֵיהֶם שְׁמוֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃
10Six of their names on the one stone, and the remaining six names on the second stone, in the order of their birth.שִׁשָּׁה מִשְּׁמֹתָם עַל הָאֶבֶן הָאֶחָת וְאֶת־שְׁמוֹת הַשִּׁשָּׁה הַנּוֹתָרִים עַל־הָאֶבֶן הַשֵּׁנִית כְּתוֹלְדֹתָם׃
11The work of a skilled [precious] stone engraver, like the engraving of a signet [ring] [written in script that is clear like they engrave a signet ring] shall you engrave the two stones with the names of the B’nei Yisrael. In gold settings shall you place them.מַעֲשֵׂה חָרַשׁ אֶבֶן פִּתּוּחֵי חֹתָם תְּפַתַּח אֶת־שְׁתֵּי הָאֲבָנִים עַל־שְׁמֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֻסַבֹּת מִשְׁבְּצוֹת זָהָב תַּעֲשֶׂה אֹתָם׃
12Set the two stones on the shoulder straps of the eiphod as remembrance stones for the B’nei Yisrael. Aharon shall bear their names before Adonoy, on his two shoulders as a remembrance.וְשַׂמְתָּ אֶת־שְׁתֵּי הָאֲבָנִים עַל כִּתְפֹת הָאֵפֹד אַבְנֵי זִכָּרֹן לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְנָשָׂא אַהֲרֹן אֶת־שְׁמוֹתָם לִפְנֵי יְהֹוָה עַל־שְׁתֵּי כְתֵפָיו לְזִכָּרֹן׃ {ס}        
13Make gold settings,וְעָשִׂיתָ מִשְׁבְּצֹת זָהָב׃
14and two chains of pure gold, you will make them for the ends, a braided work. and you will fasten the braided chains to the settings.וּשְׁתֵּי שַׁרְשְׁרֹת זָהָב טָהוֹר מִגְבָּלֹת תַּעֲשֶׂה אֹתָם מַעֲשֵׂה עֲבֹת וְנָתַתָּה אֶת־שַׁרְשְׁרֹת הָעֲבֹתֹת עַל הַמִּשְׁבְּצֹת׃ {ס}        
15Make a breastplate of judgment, the work of a craftsman. Make it in the same manner you made the eiphod. [Out of] gold, greenish-blue wool, dark red wool, crimson [colored] wool and fine twined linen, shall you make it.וְעָשִׂיתָ חֹשֶׁן מִשְׁפָּט מַעֲשֵׂה חֹשֵׁב כְּמַעֲשֵׂה אֵפֹד תַּעֲשֶׂנּוּ זָהָב תְּכֵלֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן וְתוֹלַעַת שָׁנִי וְשֵׁשׁ מׇשְׁזָר תַּעֲשֶׂה אֹתוֹ׃
16It shall be a doubled square, a span in its length and a span in its width.רָבוּעַ יִהְיֶה כָּפוּל זֶרֶת אׇרְכּוֹ וְזֶרֶת רׇחְבּוֹ׃
17Fill it [the breastplate settings] with fillings of [mounted] stones. Their shall be four rows of [precious] stones: [The first row:] An odem [ruby], pitda [topaz], and a barekes [emerald], [shall be placed on] the first row [one].וּמִלֵּאתָ בוֹ מִלֻּאַת אֶבֶן אַרְבָּעָה טוּרִים אָבֶן טוּר אֹדֶם פִּטְדָה וּבָרֶקֶת הַטּוּר הָאֶחָד׃
18The second row: nofech [carbuncle], sapphire, and yahalom [diamond].וְהַטּוּר הַשֵּׁנִי נֹפֶךְ סַפִּיר וְיָהֲלֹם׃
19The third row: leshem [opal], shevo [agate], and achlomo [amethyst].וְהַטּוּר הַשְּׁלִישִׁי לֶשֶׁם שְׁבוֹ וְאַחְלָמָה׃
20The fourth row: tarshish [chrysolite], shoham [onyx], and yoshfei [jasper]. [These stones] shall be placed in gold settings in their fullness.וְהַטּוּר הָרְבִיעִי תַּרְשִׁישׁ וְשֹׁהַם וְיָשְׁפֵה מְשֻׁבָּצִים זָהָב יִהְיוּ בְּמִלּוּאֹתָם׃
21These stones shall have on them the names of the B’nei Yisrael, twelve of them by their names, each one’s name [written in script that is clear like they engrave a signet ring] engraved as on a signet [ring], representing the twelve tribes.וְהָאֲבָנִים תִּהְיֶיןָ עַל־שְׁמֹת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל שְׁתֵּים עֶשְׂרֵה עַל־שְׁמֹתָם פִּתּוּחֵי חוֹתָם אִישׁ עַל־שְׁמוֹ תִּהְיֶיןָ לִשְׁנֵי עָשָׂר שָׁבֶט׃
22Make [two] twisted end-chains for the breastplate, braided work of pure gold.וְעָשִׂיתָ עַל־הַחֹשֶׁן שַׁרְשֹׁת גַּבְלֻת מַעֲשֵׂה עֲבֹת זָהָב טָהוֹר׃
23Make two gold rings for the breastplate, and set the two rings on the two [upper] corners [sides] for the breastplate.וְעָשִׂיתָ עַל־הַחֹשֶׁן שְׁתֵּי טַבְּעוֹת זָהָב וְנָתַתָּ אֶת־שְׁתֵּי הַטַּבָּעוֹת עַל־שְׁנֵי קְצוֹת הַחֹשֶׁן׃
24Place [attach] the two gold-braided chains on the two rings, at the corners [sides] of the breastplate.וְנָתַתָּה אֶת־שְׁתֵּי עֲבֹתֹת הַזָּהָב עַל־שְׁתֵּי הַטַּבָּעֹת אֶל־קְצוֹת הַחֹשֶׁן׃
25The two ends of the two braided chains [which are on its two sides], you shall place [attach] to the two settings, and place them on the shoulder straps of the eiphod toward its face.וְאֵת שְׁתֵּי קְצוֹת שְׁתֵּי הָעֲבֹתֹת תִּתֵּן עַל־שְׁתֵּי הַמִּשְׁבְּצוֹת וְנָתַתָּה עַל־כִּתְפוֹת הָאֵפֹד אֶל־מוּל פָּנָיו׃
26Make two gold rings and set them on the two [lower] corners [sides] of the breastplate, on its edge that is on the inner side of the eiphod.וְעָשִׂיתָ שְׁתֵּי טַבְּעוֹת זָהָב וְשַׂמְתָּ אֹתָם עַל־שְׁנֵי קְצוֹת הַחֹשֶׁן עַל־שְׂפָתוֹ אֲשֶׁר אֶל־עֵבֶר הָאֵפֹד בָּיְתָה׃
27Make two gold rings and place them on the two shoulder straps of the eiphod, on the bottom, toward its face, a gainst where they are joined, above the eiphod’s belt.וְעָשִׂיתָ שְׁתֵּי טַבְּעוֹת זָהָב וְנָתַתָּה אֹתָם עַל־שְׁתֵּי כִתְפוֹת הָאֵפוֹד מִלְּמַטָּה מִמּוּל פָּנָיו לְעֻמַּת מַחְבַּרְתּוֹ מִמַּעַל לְחֵשֶׁב הָאֵפוֹד׃
28They shall bind the [lower] rings of the breastplate to the [lower] rings of the eiphod with a cord of greenish-blue wool, so that it [the breastplate] remains against the eiphod’s belt, so that the breastplate does not move from the eiphod.וְיִרְכְּסוּ אֶת־הַחֹשֶׁן מִטַּבְּעֹתָו אֶל־טַבְּעֹת הָאֵפוֹד בִּפְתִיל תְּכֵלֶת לִהְיוֹת עַל־חֵשֶׁב הָאֵפוֹד וְלֹא־יִזַּח הַחֹשֶׁן מֵעַל הָאֵפוֹד׃
29Aharon will thus carry the names of the B’nei Yisrael on the breastplate of judgment, over his heart, when he comes into the Holy [sanctuary], as a constant remembrance before Adonoy.וְנָשָׂא אַהֲרֹן אֶת־שְׁמוֹת בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּחֹשֶׁן הַמִּשְׁפָּט עַל־לִבּוֹ בְּבֹאוֹ אֶל־הַקֹּדֶשׁ לְזִכָּרֹן לִפְנֵי־יְהֹוָה תָּמִיד׃
30Place in the breastplate the Urim and Tumim, and they will be over Aharon’s heart when he comes before Adonoy. Aharon will carry the judgment of the B’nei Yisrael over his heart, before Adonoy always.וְנָתַתָּ אֶל־חֹשֶׁן הַמִּשְׁפָּט אֶת־הָאוּרִים וְאֶת־הַתֻּמִּים וְהָיוּ עַל־לֵב אַהֲרֹן בְּבֹאוֹ לִפְנֵי יְהֹוָה וְנָשָׂא אַהֲרֹן אֶת־מִשְׁפַּט בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל עַל־לִבּוֹ לִפְנֵי יְהֹוָה תָּמִיד׃ {ס}        

Options are given below, but before looking, you may want to decide: Jelly beans, dried fruits, fresh fruits, or veggies?

And for a base, do you want to use leather (pretending it is cloth)? If not, use a graham cracker or regular crackers, possibly with cream cheese (though it will not be as colorful). Make sure the combination is one that tastes good. The size of the base will depend on the size of what you put on it. And remember that the Choshen was square.

Below please find a color-coded chart. The colors are what my understanding is that the original colors were. Below that are suggestions for a few variations; which suggestions are not needed if you use jelly beans.

For all variations: I recommend using O-shaped cereal (Cheerios, Joe’s Os, etc). unless you have something else that seems to you to be a better “gold ring.”

Corner Ring   Corner Ring
 Carnelian or Ruby (Red)Topaz (Yellowish Green)Diamond (Clear) 
 Carbuncle or Red Garnet (Dark Red)Sapphire (Blue)Emerald (Green) 
 Jacinth (Orange)Agate (Brown or Purple with Stripes),Amethyst (Purple) 
 Beryl or Chalcedony (Green to Yellow)Onyx (Black)Jasper (Bright Green). 
Corner Ring   Corner Ring

From here, choose one:

Or make your own! Use fruit! Dried fruit! Make a bento! Send me a photo with a description, and tell me if I may add it to this web site! Even better, send me a sample!