When the Jews sojourned in the wilderness they built a Mishkan — Sanctuary — which served as the holy abode for Hashem’s Divine Presence. On Rosh Chodesh Nissan it was erected and for the succeeding twelve days the Nessi’im — the princes of the tribes — each brought an array of offerings with which they dedicated the Mizbei’ach — Altar.

In this week’s parshah there is a detailed report as to which prince brought his offering on each specific day of the month, and the exact content of each offering. At the end of this section the Torah gives the tally of all the various animals and items that they offered. The introductory words to this are “Zot chanukat hamizbei’ach beyom hemashach oto” — “This was the dedication of the Altar, on the day it was dedicated” (7:84). Four verses later, when the Torah concludes the accounting, we are again told “Zot chanukat hamizbei’ach” — “This was the dedication of the Altar — achareihimashach otoafter it was dedicated” (7:88).

Why did the Torah start out using the expression of “beyom” — “on the day” — and conclude with the expression “acharei” — “after”?

Perhaps this change of terminology can be explained in the following way:

It is common for people to cherish something new. As time passes, however, the novelty often proves short-lived. For example, a boy becoming Bar Mitzvah often begins putting on his tefillin with excitement and lofty intentions. As he grows older, unfortunately, it becomes a daily routine, and even while wearing his tefillin he gives them little attention.

When people buy something new, such as a car, clothing, etc., they are very excited over it and the minutest scratch on the car or stain on the clothing affects them immensely. As time passes, and the newness of the items wanes, so does the excitement and concern.

On the day the Altar was anointed, everybody was in high spirits. The Torah is telling us that not only were they in great spirits “on the day the Altar was anointed,” but that even “after it was anointed,” it did not lose its newness, but was cherished with the same love and awe as on the first day.

The most jubilant time in a person’s life is the wedding night. The Chatan and Kallah are both ecstatic, and their mutual love is indescribable.

Thus, in the Lecho Dodi hymn recited on Friday night, to depict Hashem’s happiness with the Jewish people, we say “Your G‑d will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.”

All this is experienced when the Chatan and Kallah stand under the Chuppah and throughout the evening. However, as time moves on, their love weakens. This may even progress to the point that the marriage is in turmoil and their former mutual affection is a thing of the past.

My berachah to you, dear Chatan and Kallah, is that yourexuberance not be limited to beyomhimashach otothe day of your anointment as husband and wife — but continue on with the same strength also acharei himashach oto — in all the years that will succeed after this momentous day. Throughout your entire life may you, please G‑d, express the same admiration, affection and dedication for each other that you felt on this day.


In addition to the multitude of blessings your family, relatives and friends give you, you were privileged a few minutes ago that a Kohen bestowed upon you Birkas Kohanim — the Priestly Blessings — which incidentally are recorded in the Torah portion assigned to this week — Parshat Naso.

While it is true that at certain times, and in certain places, such as during the repetition of the Yom Tov Mussaf service in the synagogue or in the Beit Hamikdash these lofty blessings may be recited only by a Kohen, in our daily shacharit services they are recited in the repetition of Amidah, even by a non-Kohen. Moreover, they have become the traditional blessings which all parents give to their children at various occasions, and which your parents wished you before you went to the Chuppah.

Giving these berachot to a Chatan and Kallah while they stand under the Chuppah has become a popular practice in many communities. Some have found a remez — hint — for the custom in the wording of the seven berachot which will soon be recited. The concluding words of the seventh berachah are “Blessed are You, G‑d, mesamei’ach Chatan im haKallah” — “Who gladdens the groom with the bride.” The word haKallah (הכלה) has the numerical value of sixty, which is also the total number of letters in the three Priestly Blessings. Thus, they see in the wording of the berachah an allusion to gladden the Chatan and Kallah by bestowing upon them the sixty letters of the Priestly Blessings.

Since the Priestly Blessings are not limited only to Kohanim, you too, my dear Chatan and Kallah, will undoubtedly be wishing them to each other throughout your lifetime and fervently pray to visualize their fulfillment in your home.

Thus, it is proper that I make you aware that for the berachot to be effective, the Shulchan Aruch — our accepted code of law — has dictated that they must be pronounced according to specific rules and regulations.

Permit me to cite a few of them and explain the implication and relevance to a Chatan and Kallah who, with G‑d’s help, are looking forward to being husband and wife “biz 120.”

The first of these rules is that they must be said, panim el panim — face to face. That is, for you to enjoy lofty blessings in your married life you must see each other face to face. No matter what you are about to plan or do in your married life, it must be done face to face — with open communication and never forgetting or ignoring one another.

Another rule is that they must be said “belashon hakodesh”—“in the holy tongue.” Literally this means Hebrew, the language of the Torah. However, in our case it means that whatever dialect and language you converse in, for there to be blessings in your home, your communication must be holy and refined, not G‑d forbid, in a tone of derision, disrespect, sarcasm, vulgarity and accusation.

Halachah also instructs that when giving the blessings the Kohen may not clench his fists, but rather his hands must be opened, raised and stretched out. The message imparted by this halachah is that while giving a blessing is laudable, it must not merely be lip service. The open outstretched hand demonstrates the giving away of everything one possess for the aid and benefit of the other.

In the case of a husband and wife, it means that a blessed abode is one where there is face to face, open communication, in a refined and holy manner, and each is actually ready to give entirely of himself and share and extend all that is within his/her reach for the sake and benefit of the life partner.

My dear Chatan and Kallah by constantly seeing each other face to face with a happy and loving countenance, by always communicating between yourselves with a sanctified language, and by altruistically giving of oneself and being a helping mate to the other, you can be assured that the Priestly Blessings will be yours for many years to come and be enjoyed in your home in the fullest measure materially and spiritually.