NASO (Numbers, 4:28-7:89) — “Blessing the Blessers”

Outside of Israel, it happens thirteen times a year.  In many communities in Israel, it is still a daily occurrence.

The Kohanim — Priests stand before the congregation with their hands stretched out in Blessing: “May G-d bless you and keep you.  May G-d make His presence enlighten you and grant you grace.  May G-d direct His providence toward you and grant you peace.” (Numbers, 6:24-26)

G-d has charged the children of Aaron with the responsibility of blessing His children.

Three questions:

  1) Why is it the job of the Kohanim to bless the Nation?  Why can’t ANYBODY do it?

  2) Why does G-d need to have somebody bless us?  Why doesn’t He do it Himself?!  (After all, the Kohanim are simply asking G-d to bless us!)

  3) Everybody lines up in front of the Kohanim to be blessed.  When do the Kohanim get to line up in front of someone to be blessed?  Who blesses THEM?!

   1) The Kohanim are the children of Aaron.  They carry his compassion for one’s fellow man.  (See “Bless Your Heart!”)

   2, 3) G-d wants to fill the world with compassion. He wants us to care for one another.  Therefore, he wants us to bless one another.  Yes, He could have done it Himself, without waiting for someone else to ask Him to do it.  He could have bestowed divine blessing upon whoever deserves it.  But He preferred to have the blessing come through the good wishes of one’s fellow man.

By blessing others, we become better people.  Therefore, “they will link My name with the Israelites, AND I WILL BLESS THEM.” (Verse 27)

G-d Himself bestows His blessings upon the Kohanim as a reward for blessing the Israelites.

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The Talmud tells us that when a person prays for his fellow man’s needs, his own needs are met FIRST.  A sick person should pray for others to get well.  Someone in need of a job should pray for his friends to meet their financial goals.

If you want to be truly blessed, learn to sincerely bless others.  Your joy at their good fortune will be a blessing in itself.

Have a great Shabbos.

Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz

To leave a comment about this article, or to read other readers’ comments on this article, scroll down past the archive links.

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From the Archives

“How to Spell ‘I Love You’” (2010)

…Can this marriage be saved? SHOULD this marriage be saved? … 

An abbreviated  Torah scroll is written, with parchment, ink, and quill. All of the sanctity of a Torah will be invested into that little scroll. G-d’s name, in Hebrew, will be written on this scroll seven times and then erased.

Erased?! What happened to the respect that we’re supposed to have for G-d’s name? Are we actually expected to erase the holy name of G-d? … Why should we show such dishonor to G-d’s name? We normally go to great lengths to avoid such a thing. Why is His name suddenly expendable?…

Read more.  

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“There Goes the Neighborhood” (2009) 

…The Tabernacle sat in the middle of the camp. The enclosed area of the Tabernacle was called “The Camp of G-d’s Presence.” It was surrounded by a second encampment, “The Levitical Camp.” As the name implies, that is where the Levites camped. The third encampment was where the other tribes camped. It was called “The Camp of Israel.” 

The Camp of Israel was a place of holiness; those who were defiled were required to stay out of the encampment until they could undergo a purification process: 

G-d spoke to Moses, saying, “Command the Israelites to expel from the camp everyone with Tzora’as, every Zav, and everyone who has been contaminated … 

Read more.

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“Wine Not?” (2007) 

For some people, 365 are not enough. 

There are 613 Commandments in the Torah; 248 positive and 365 negative. While it is forbidden to add any Mitzvahs, there is a way that a person can accept additional prohibitions within the framework of existing commandments… 

A Nazir is a person who chooses to separate himself by prohibiting several activities that would otherwise be permitted: He does not consume grape products. He demonstrates his disdain for the social scene by allowing his hair to grow wild and unkempt. He lives a life of holy separation; he maintains a high level of spiritual purity, avoiding contact with the dead. 

The Nazir is a person who decides to get closer to G-d by removing himself from some of the physical pleasures that the world has to offer. He is a spiritual person who has voluntarily accepted upon himself a restrictive lifestyle… 

What is going on here? Is it good to be a Nazir or is it bad? Is it a sin to refrain from wine, or is it a sin to go back to drinking wine? 

The answer, in typical Jewish fashion, is that it depends… 

Read more.

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“Once Upon a Bus Trip” (2004) 

… It seemed like just another weekend.  Last Friday, the girls of the Bais Yaakov High School in Monsey, New York, set off for a weekend of inspiration and unity at a camp in the Catskills.  They studied, prayed, and sang together over Shabbos.  Early Sunday morning they boarded the busses for their return to Monsey. 

While driving down a steep hill, the first bus went out of control, crashing through a guardrail.  The bus slid 25 feet down an embankment, ending up partially submerged in a river. 

The short story is that there were several girls with broken bones and stitches, and three with more serious injuries.  Everyone survived. 

The long story is much more complex.  Emergency workers and volunteers rushed to the scene.  Among the necessary items they brought were body bags.  Their use was anticipated.  The Chevra Kadisha, religious burial society, was summoned as well.  Fatalities were expected.  Miraculously, there were none. 

It would be the epitome of arrogance for me to presume to know why G-d provided this extra measure of Divine Protection to these precious young ladies.  However, I’d like to suggest we consider the following… 

Read more.

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“Blessing the Blessers” (2003) 

… 1) Why is it the job of the Kohanim to bless the Nation? Why can’t ANYBODY do it?

2) Why does G-d need to have somebody bless us? Why doesn’t He do it Himself?! (After all, the Kohanim are simply asking G-d to bless us!)

3) Everybody lines up in front of the Kohanim to be blessed. When do the Kohanim get to line up in front of someone to be blessed? Who blesses THEM?!… 

Read more.

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“Play It Again, Achira” (2001)

… Have you ever come into Shul and found yourself uninspired due to the fact that today’s prayers are identical to the prayers you said last time you were there? Wouldn’t it be nice if traditional synagogues would allow for some personal creativity in expressing our prayers to the Almighty? …

Read more.  

This is the weekly message at www.torahtalk.org.   Copyright © 2000-2014 by Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz.  May be reprinted. Please include copyright information.

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Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz is a Mohel (www.Brisrabbi.com) and chaplain in Monsey, New York. For information about scheduling a Bris or a lecture, or just to say hello, call (800) 83MOHEL.

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Published in: on June 11, 2003 at 11:12 am  Leave a Comment  

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