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The Spiritual Dimension

The Spiritual Dimension

Several takes on the inner dimension of the blessings of the priests


On Rosh Hashanah we are judged and on Yom Kippur the verdict is sealed. The Heavenly Court determines the amount of Divine beneficence to be meted out to every creature during the following year. Yet we still pray every day, beseeching G‑d to grant us all our daily needs. Why? Because only the annual "amount" of Divine kindness has been predetermined—not its composition. G‑d's kindness can express itself in many ways – prosperity, good health, children, etc. – we pray for G‑d's benevolence to manifest itself in those areas where we presently find ourselves in need.

Moreover, G‑d's supernal attribute of kindness instinctively prefers to express itself in a purely spiritual manner—in consonance with its own spiritual nature. Thus, the essence of the person's soul which dwells in the higher realms is the most likely recipient for the kindness destined for an individual. Every day of the year we are judged anew whether our merits are sufficient to "force" the Divine flow – which has been earmarked for us on Rosh Hashanah – in our direction. We pray that G‑d's kindness reach us in a very physical, tangible, and appreciable manner.

Forceful Kindness

The soul of the Kohen stems from the Divine attribute of rav chesed—"abundant kindness." In the mystical works this attribute is compared to a powerful river whose waters cannot be stemmed. Any obstacles placed in its path are swept away by the surging waters. Divine beneficence which emanates from this G‑dly level proceeds unobstructed and rapidly to its desired destination; it doesn't stall and break down in some spiritual realm.

The Kohanim bless their brethren with the power inherited from their ancestor Aaron. The name Aaron (אהרן) shares the same letters as the word nir'eh (נראה) "seen." This is an allusion to the special quality of Birkat Kohanim—its positive results are always visible and palpable.

Blessing Expressway

The Book of Numbers (17:16-24) discusses a "contest" wherein the leader of every tribe submitted a bough to be placed in the Holy of Holies. Next morning Moses removed them out of the Tabernacle, and Aaron's staff had miraculously blossomed and produced ripe almonds. This was an indication that Aaron was indeed G‑d's choice for the priesthood.

In comparison with other fruit, almonds ripen very quickly. Wouldn't it have been a greater miracle if G‑d had caused the staff to so expediently bear a fruit which ordinarily takes a considerable amount of time to develop? Why cheapen the miracle by producing a "quick" fruit?

But the almond is the most fitting symbol for the priesthood. It represents the blessings of the Kohanim which race unimpeded to their recipients.

Rabbi Naftali Silberberg is a writer, editor and director of the curriculum department at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Rabbi Silberberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Chaya Mushka, and their three children.
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leon roiter barranquilla March 5, 2015

Kohanim neshamot All that is left from Aharon is A´shem's firm decisión to keep moses, his brother out of the sacred things. A´shems will has been repeated, over and over since jews decided to keep reading the korbanot, the ketoret, the torah on Rosh Ashana and Yom Hakipurim despite. the fisical desappearence of the temple, the sacred place entrusted to Aharon. Aharon´s body desappeared not his soul, his essence, Any jew who decides to keep sacred things separated from the uneducated jew must be appreciated.. Any jew who has devoted some time to learn about kohanim´s duties klnows the difficulty involved in performing such duties. Keep working with the kohanim, accompany him in his endeavor. A´shem has all kohanim in his payroll.He has to pay them since jews decided to take his worldly share for themselves. Help all kohanim perform his duty. Keep him from going to bed hungry so you can enjoy your kosher meat. . Reply

Anonymous Delray Beach, FL via September 17, 2011

The Priestly Blessing As a Kohen and a returnee to Judaism I have found your essays on this subject wonderful. Thank you. Reply

Anonymous Bayside, NY/USA July 2, 2009

The Priestly Blessing Hello, I really like to know all about G-d and I enjoy reading your articles. Really I love to know everything related to G-d, to His Word; to me it is very important. And I have to say thank you very much for sharing. Reply

Shmuel ben Avraham:Kohain Cape Coral, Fl via July 1, 2009

Now that you put it that way....;.. I haven't looked at things that way since college. Thank you Naftali! Reply

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