The first two garments that G‑d described were the high priest’s Ephod and Breastplate. The Ephod was an apron-like garment tied around the waist, possessing two straps that rose in the back from the waist up to and over the shoulders. A precious stone was attached to the upper end of each of these straps; on these two stones were engraved the names of the twelve tribes. The Breastplate was a square piece of material onto which were fastened twelve different precious stones. The names of the twelve tribes were inscribed on these twelve gems. The Breastplate was tied to the Ephod at the top and bottom with wool cords.
The Sublime and the Mundane
וְלֹא יִזַּח הַחֹשֶׁן מֵעַל הָאֵפוֹד: (שמות כח:כח)
[G d told Moses,] “The Breastplate must not come loose from the Ephod.” Exodus 28:28

The Ephod hung from the high priest’s back down to his heels, while the Breastplate rested in front, opposite his heart. The “back” represents that which is external and mundane – the aspects of life that may be necessary but are not the focus of our main interest. In contrast, the “front” signifies the internal and sublime – the real focus of our interest – just as our face, which expresses our inner thoughts and feelings, is on the front of our body.

The fact that the Breastplate must not become disconnected from the Ephod therefore means that the high priest was not allowed to have any gap between the sublime and the mundane, the essential and the external aspects of his life. What is true in our idealistic and inspired hearts must express itself even in our “heels,” i.e., the mundane and routine aspects of our lives.1