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Shemot 28:32 says about the me'il that it not be torn. Zevachim 95a states that this is a prohibition.

The Sefer Hachinuch §101 explains that it is disrespectful to damage it in any way.

Why does this only apply to the me'il? Wouldn't the same reason apply to all of the other bigdei kehunah? So why does only the me'il have a special prohibition?

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There are minor pieces subject to tearing (like the techeles strands of the tzitz and the ephod), but those are easily replaced and aren't intrinsic to the remainder of the beged.

Most of the other begadim of the Kohen Gadol contain metal strands or are actually made of metal, making them difficult to "tear" - you would have to cut them. The other begadim also have straps that allow them to be easily loosened and removed.

The me'il is subject potentially to significant wear as the kohen gadol takes his head in and out of the opening without any buttons or ties to loosen the garment. The neck of the me'il is therefore more subject to tearing than any other piece of his begadim.

The sefer hachinuch you linked says as follows: משרשי המצוה לפי שהקריעה דבל סל גנאי אצלנו ועניין הסתתה ואף כ׳ בפי הבגד נתרחקנו מן הדבר והיזהרנו עליו בלאו כדי שילבסוהו הלובסו באימה וביראה ובנחח ובדרך כבוד שיירא מלקורעו ומלהשחית בו דבר

It makes clear that this is a richuk/azhara made ESPECIALLY because the pi of the me'il is inclined to tear moreso than the other begadim.

It isn't that the other begadim don't need to be treated with kavod, it's just particularly important vis a vis the me'il.

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  • Is this all your own svorah or you have sourced to all this – Shoel U'Meishiv Feb 25 '15 at 18:34
  • So you get lashes for ripping the mitznefet or minchasayim or avnet? Can you source that? – Double AA Feb 25 '15 at 18:36
  • @nafkamina unfortunately, I cannot point toward sources on this one. Wish I could. Knowing my luck, I'll stumble across something in a couple months once I've forgotten the question... :) – Isaac Kotlicky Feb 25 '15 at 18:36
  • @IsaacKotlicky Your answers aren't particularly valuable to the community without sources. Why should we trust your whims? We don't even know you. – Double AA Feb 25 '15 at 18:37
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    @IsaacKotlicky Yes. There's a very good reason outlined already by the OP. The Pasuk says Meil and so does the Chinuch. That's a very good reason. – Double AA Feb 25 '15 at 18:42
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It doesn't apply only to the me'il. Rambam (Hilchos Klei Hamikdash 9:3) says:

והקורע פי המעיל לוקה שנאמר לא יקרע והוא הדין לכל בגדי כהונה שהקורען דרך השחתה לוקה

One who tears the border of the opening of the cloak is liable for lashes, as [Exodus 28:32] states: "It shall not be torn." This applies to all the priestly garments. One who tears them with a destructive intent is liable for lashes.

Mishneh L'melech there quotes an opinion that there is a difference between the opening of the me'il (where one would get lashes whether the tearing was with destructive intent or not) and the rest of the me'il and the other bigdei kehunah (where that's only if it was with destructive intent). But he rejects that.

As for why the prohibition is stated specifically about the me'il, the second and third paragraphs of Isaac's answer seem to cover that.

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