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YIP Parsha Project Parshat Nasso

05/29/2014 01:53:12 PM


YIP Parsha Project

Parshat Nasso                                                                                                Guterman Family

In this week’s Torah portion of Nasso, the Torah engages us in four distinct topics. The parsha begins with a census of those who participated in the service of the Ohel Moed. The next two topics presented are of the Sotah and of the Nazir. And the parsha concludes with Moshe completing the construction of the Mishkan with the gifts and sacrifices given by the prince of each tribe. Each topic is described in great detail.

However, there is one additional topic which is presented. It is only six versus long and does not receive the same attention in detail that these other subjects receive. And yet, it is the one subject in this week’s parsha that we in this day have a tangible relationship with.  In chapter 6, beginning with verse 22, Hashem spoke to Moshe and said to speak to Aaron and his sons that they should bless Bnei Yisrael. The wording of this blessing we are familiar with. It is the same blessing that the Kohanim engage in on Yom Tov and that we bless our children on Shabbat evening. Additionally, every morning, during the repetition of the Amida, the chazzan recites this blessing as a remembrance of Moshe composing and of Aaron and his sons blessing.

The question arises. What aspect do the Kohanim serve in this ‘service of blessing’. Is it the Kohanim directly blessing Bnei Yisrael or are they acting as a conduit for Hashem. The Rashbam states, “the Kohanim do not give a direct blessing of their own. Actually they pray to Hashem that He should bless Bnei Yisrael.” Ibn Ezra adds, “It is Hashem’s blessing and the Kohanim use of his name.” Finally, Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch teaches, “the blessing of the priests does not flow from their own well wishing and benevolence, but it is part and parcel of their service in the Sanctuary.”

  On the other hand, in mesechet Sotah 39a, there is a preliminary blessing (to this blessing) that concludes with the phrase “And He commanded us to bless His people with love.” Further, Chazal teach that when making a blessing over a cup of wine for Kiddush, Havdalah or the zimmum, that you should only choose someone who is generous, a person with an ayin tov. This idea is derived from the phrase in Mishlei, “a generous man will be blessed.” Here we learn from Rabbi Hirsch that the blessing is somehow dependent on the feelings and intentions of the one who blesses.

In conclusion, regarding our original question, it would seem that the answer is yes. Yes, the blessing is from the source of all blessing, Hashem. And yes, the deliverer of the blessing is integral to this process.  Ultimately, Rabbi Hirsch adds a beautiful idea. The blessing serves to raise the spiritual level of those who are blessed and join all hearts in unison toward Hashem.  While the Kohanim pronounce the blessing, the entire congregation stands and directs its thoughts to Heaven.

As we bless our children Friday night, with love and an ayin tov, so should we merit to receive the blessing of the ultimate love from Hashem.

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