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The Priestly Blessing.

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on June 9, 2006



This weeks parasha contains one of the most well known and used texts in Torah apart from the Ten Statements and the Shem: The Kohanite Blessing – The Priestly Blessing.

Buit what does it mean – how can we as a People as well as individually understand this Blessing? What’s in it for YOU?

“The Eternal One spoke to Moses: Speak to Aaron and his sons: Thus shall you bless the people of Israel. Say to them: The Eternal bless you and protect you!

The Eternal deal kindly and graciously with you!

The Eternal bestow [divine] favor upon you and grant you peace!

“Thus they shall link My name with the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”(Numbers 6:22–27)

“May G-d bless you and keep you “(6:24)

“With G-d’s blessing comes His protection of the blessing. A mortal king has a servant in Syria while he himself lives in Rome. The king sends for him. He sets out and comes to him. He gives him a hundred pounds of gold. He packs it up and sets out on his journey. Robbers fall upon him and take away all that he had given him and all that he had with him… But when G-d blesses with riches, He also guards them from robbers.” (Midrash Rabbah)

G-d protects not just the receiver of the blessing – but the Blessing itself! G-d invests His Name in His Blessing, and just vas we are commanded to Sanctify His Name, so will G-d make sure that His Name is kept Holy, through His blessing on us.

“May G-d make His face shine upon you, and give you grace” (6:25)“He will give you the wisdom to be gracious to each other and merciful to each other.” (Midrash Rabbah)

Again we are reminded that Torah is close to us, possible to Keep, possible to Live by: “But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” (Devarim/Deuteronomy 30:14)

Here is another affirmation that Torah itself is etched into us by the Almighty – the question is if we listen – the Kohanite Blessing tells us that we will.

“May G-d lift up His face to you” (6:26)“He will turn His face towards you; for it is not the same thing for a man to greet his neighbor while looking him in the face as to greet him with his head turned to one side.”
(Midrash Rabbah)

G-d does not ignore us, G-d looks at us, face to face and deals with us as Upstanding Humans – He deals with us as acountable beings – we have His undivided attention at all times, regardless of where we are or what we are doing.

There is a Midrash about a King who’s son broke the Law of the Land, and the punishment for that was to be Exiled. On the day that the son was to be sent into exile for his crime, his father came to him and said – “I will go with you into Exile, rather than be without you here at home.” So it is with G-d – He goes with us also into Exile.

“…and give you peace” (6:26) “If there is no peace, there is nothing.” (Torat Kohanim)

“Rebbe Nachman of Breslov said: there is truth, the truth of the truth, and peace. Truth is: a kid stole an apple. The truth of the truth is: the kid was hungry. Peace is: Nobody stole anything; give the kid an apple!” (Heard from Reb Shlomo Carlebach – picked up at Kolel)

G-d says: “Nothing happened, give the Kid an apple!” Yes, our shortcomings are a source of grief for G-d, but because He knows the Truth, the Truth of the Truth about them, He can also say: “nothing happened; give the Kid an apple!” I.e G-d knows that, like all kids, we respond better to posiitive re-enforcement than to negative re-enforcement – that is why He Keeps enumerating what will happen if we return – He wants to make sure we understand the good that comes from Keeping His Law. He grants us Peace as a positive re-enforcement.

“And they shall set My name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them” (6:27) “I would have thought that if the Kohanim desire to bless Israel, then Israel is blessed, but if they do not they are not; comes the verse to tell me: “I will bless them.” In either case, says G-d, I will bless them from heaven.

The Kohanim bless Israel, but who blesses the Kohanim? Comes the verse to tell me: “I will bless them.””(Sifri Zuta)

No matter what other may say, G-d’s Name is upon us – The Eternal One has invested His own Name in us, and no matter what He will keep that Name Holy in us.

Amen!

Shabbat Shalom!

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