Part of a talk I gave to the Shalhevet Girls High School in Vancouver,
where our daughter Rebbitzen Federgrun is the Menaheles.
Summarized by Rebbitzen Federgrun.
A person's clothing send a subtle signal of what they represent and whom they respect in this world. When we dress a certain way, we tend to act a certain way. In Judaism, we generally don't have uniforms as part of our religious routines. We may have a special article of clothing to wear at specific times, but the only place/time where we find a "uniform" was in the Beis Hamikdash. Rabbi Soloveitchik once said, "Judaism doesn't believe in rituals for the sake of ritual. Everything we do has a deeper meaning and reasoning behind it." Yet, again, in the Beis Hamikdash, there were rituals - and they meant a lot! Why was the Beis Hamikdash different in these regards?
There's an idea in Kabbalah of hod - splendor. There is hod of Hakadosh Baruch Hu in the world He has created. We say in Barchi Nafshi, "Hod v'hadar lavashta - You (Hashem) donned splendor and glory." This middah of hod is one Hashem used in creating the world. Thus, when we look at the amazing world around us, we are, in a sense, seeing that which Hashem wears to show us His majesty.
When we see hod, we feel awe. We recognize the greatness of what we are seeing and experiencing, and we want to associate with it.
The Beis Hamikdash is supposed to be the place where Hashem's hod is appreciated most. Only there were kohanim given a "uniform" to wear: the bigdei kehunah. And there we experienced religious rituals. The reason these could happen in the Beis Hamikdash, is because the Beis Hamikdash itself was the pinnacle of kedusha in the world. Therefore its hod could be accurately recognized as the splendor of Hashem. Instead of focusing on the externals, those in its proximity focused on the spirituality of what was happening around them.
This week we read Parshas Shekalim, which tells us how each Jew brought half a shekel to be used for the services in the Beis Hamikdash. The Sfas Emes explains that the idea of mishenichnas Adar marbin b'simchas begins with the reading of Parshas Shekalim. This money was brought with joy, and that joy carries through the generations until today. Part of the great joy in giving 1/2 shekel lies in its representation that we give half, and Hashem gives half, and we meet Him in the middle. So the joy of Adar is the joy of getting close to Hakadosh Baruch Hu.
Everything we see, do, hear, etc has an impact upon us - consciously or unconsciously. We aren't perfect, but we should strive in all we do to increase our simcha by doing things that bring us closer to Hashem.