Monday, May 13, 2013

Sealed with Peace

Parshat Naso
9 Sivan 5773 / May 17 – 18, 2013
Bamidbar 4:21 – 7:89

Sealed with Peace
by Joey Yadgar, MH Great Neck

 In Parashath Naso we are introduced to the Priestly Blessing that Aaron and his Sons, and all Kohanim (Jewish Priests) today, are to bless the Jewish people with. The blessing is as follows:

'May G‑d bless you and guard you.
'May G‑d shine His countenance upon you and be gracious to you.
'May G‑d turn His countenance toward you and grant you peace.'" (Bamidbar 6:24-26)

What is the source of this blessing? Is it a blessing from the Kohanim to the Jewish people of Israel?

After looking one Pasuk further in the Torah, we find our answer. The Pasuk says, They shall bestow My Name upon the children of Israel, so that I will bless them.’ We find that the blessing is directly from Hashem, and the Kohanim are the agents through which the blessing is given.

Why doesn’t Hashem bless us directly rather than through Kohanim? We will find our answer after we further look into the meaning of these three Pasukim.
One of the most well-known commentaries to the Torah is Rashi. He gives a brief explanation about the meaning of these three verses above.

Rashi explains that in the first Pasuk, 'May G‑d bless you and guard you.’ is a blessing asking Hashem to bless and protect all of our possessions as Hashem is the provider of all of our possessions. The blessing continues with, 'May G‑d shine His countenance upon you and be gracious to you.’ Here the Kohanim ask Hashem to show us a pleasant and radiant countenance upon our faces, and to show favor to us. Finally, the blessing concludes with, 'May G‑d turn His countenance toward you and grant you peace.’ Rashi explains this verse as a request to Hashem to suppress his wrath, and for Hashem to grant us peace.

It is the ending, ‘…and grant you peace,’ where we find the essence of the entire blessing; without peace, we would not be able to enjoy all of Hashem’s other blessings.
The Kohanim are reminded of the importance of peace in the introductory blessing recited by the Kohanim before the Priestly Blessing; this introductory blessing ends with the words “… to bless His nation Israel with love." Hashem is teaching the Kohanim and the Jewish People of Israel an important lesson; that only when we are united through peace and love, the Kohanim will be able to act as agents between Hashem and the entire Jewish Nation, and as a result we will all be able to receive Hashem’s blessings. Therefore, in order to convey this message, Hashem decides to not bless us directly, but rather use the Kohanim to give us the Priestly Blessing.

Rabbi Eli Mansour of Brooklyn goes on to explain that the Priestly Blessing consists of fifteen words. The first fourteen words correspond to the fourteen joints in the hands of the Kohanim with which they hold outstretched when performing the Priestly Blessing. (It is no coincidence that the numerical value for the Hebrew word for hand, Yad, is fourteen)

What does the fifteenth word, “Peace” correspond to? Rabbi Mansour explains that the word peace corresponds to the palm of the hand. It is through the palm that we are able to make peace through the common gesture of a handshake. Additionally, without the palm, the hand is unable to hold anything, and it is therefore needed to receive all of Hashem’s blessings.

May the Priestly Blessing be a constant reminder for the entire Jewish nation to be united with love and peace so that we can continue to receive Hashem’s infinite blessings, and may we all celebrate the coming of Mashiach in Jerusalem speedily in our days!

Shabbat Shalom.

Sources used: ,, Rabbi Alex Israel, Hakham Ya’aqob Menashe, and Rabbi Eli Mansour


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