Is there something nice you’ve decided to do for someone, but you’re dragging your feet getting it done? Have you recently resolved that you will finally invite your neighbors over for dinner, yet you haven’t actually reached out to make it happen? Can you recall a time when you told yourself, “This week, I’m going to take the time to look over that business proposal my friend asked me to review,” only to flame out and procrastinate yet again?

It happens all the time. You fully intend to be a knight in shining armor but between your own family, your tight schedule, and the extra hours spent cleaning out the garage, you just never get around to it.

While completely understandable, it’s not the best way to do things. Let’s explore some alternatives.

The Almond Test

Our parshah is full of political intrigue, with the villainous Korah challenging Moses’s leadership and trying to wrest the priesthood away from Aaron. Of course, that didn’t end too well for him and his crew, as the ground literally swallowed them alive.

But the legitimacy of Aaron’s priesthood was still under fire, and so, we read of a test staged to quiet the chatter once and for all. Each tribe placed a staff in the Tabernacle with their name on it, “and on the following day Moses came to the Tent of Testimony, and behold, Aaron’s staff for the House of Levi had blossomed! It gave forth blossoms, sprouted buds, and produced ripe almonds.”1

At last, definitive proof for Aaron’s right to the priesthood.

But the obvious question is, why almonds?2

The short answer is that almonds grow very quickly. In fact, the Hebrew word for almond, “shkedim,” is etymologically related to the word “shaked,” which means “quick.” Due to their element of speed, almonds are the appropriate fruit for the priesthood.

The Priestly Blessing

What’s the connection between the priesthood and speed?

One of the primary features of the priestly rite is the Priestly Blessing. During the repetition of the Amidah of the morning prayers, 3 the priests get up in front of the people and bless them with the three special verses that speak of G‑d’s grace and favor. It is a moving moment, a gift to the people that the priests—as they recite in their blessing just prior—do “with love.”

Curious minds ask, what is the purpose of this blessing? After all, G‑d is the one Who blesses the people, so why are the priests taking His job? What’s more, the content of their blessing are promises G‑d makes to the people, so what exactly is their function?

The Kabbalists answered this question by opening a window into the mechanics of G‑d’s blessing to us.

Human minds are accustomed to thinking of “blessing” in material terms: health, prosperity, and a nice family. But that is obviously not how matters originate within G‑d’s “treasury.” After all, G‑d is far above all paradigms of materialism—good or bad—so the blessing as it originates in G‑d’s benevolence is something far more spiritual than we could possibly imagine.

From that spiritual conception of “goodness,” there is a long process until it evolves and develops into money in your bank account and happy, smiling children. Inasmuch as G‑d’s blessing takes time and development until it manifests in physical life, it’s entirely possible that it gets “stuck” along the way.

Imagine G‑d’s blessing as a slowly trickling stream that eventually gets to its destination, but there’s always the possibility that driftwood, a large rock, or a dry patch will obstruct the trickle. So, too, the blessing destined to come our way can get stuck if we do not merit it to actually materialize today.

And here is where the priests’ job comes in. They can speed up and smooth out the process. By invoking G‑d’s true love for His people, the priestly blessing turns that steady trickle into a raging river, a Niagara Falls that barrels through any obstruction. Anything that might have gotten in the way prior is now blown right out of the way.

Closing the Deal

By way of illustration: Imagine you sign a contract on a house and are now working on getting a mortgage. You collect all the monies for the down payment, you gather all the paperwork, and you make sure your credit score is squeaky clean.

Your mortgage broker tells you, “it looks good,” you’ve already locked in a rate, and now you’re just waiting for the underwriter to sign off on it. The deal is closed. The loan is all but assured, and you really have no reason to assume anything will go wrong.

Yet that underwriter still hasn’t signed it off, and you’re anxious. Every morning you wake up thinking, “Will today be the day?” And day goes by, and crickets. It’s nerve racking.

Now, imagine you have someone who can place a call and say, “Hey, can you just sign off on the loan?” Wouldn’t that be great?

Well, that’s the priestly job. When they bless the congregation, they act as the well-connected underwriter who can sign off on the blessing coming your way and make it happen. Today.

Hence the speedy almonds.

Be Your Own Underwriter

We can all emulate the priests in our own lives.

So, if you’ve decided to do something really nice for someone else or pledged a friend a loan, it’s time to carry through.

Yes, of course, things happen. You get a text from a friend who’s desperately in need of a kind word and some quality time, and you respond, “Totally, we should definitely go out sometime soon!” And then you forget about it, and your poor friend is left wondering when she can contact you again to follow through.

Your friend who badly needs that loan for her startup business is still waiting for you to come through, and you just completely forgot about it.

Yes, it happens, but we can all do better.

Be like the priests, and be your own underwriter. Pick up your pen and sign off on it right now. Follow up, follow through, and make sure all the kind things you have pledged to do for others don’t get stuck midstream.4