Hi everyone!  I’m so sorry I am getting my article on Parshat Nasso out so late!  There was so much going on here, and it’s a surprise to acknowledge, that last week was the first time I wasn’t able to write my parsha-post since I’ve started blogging!  I didn’t forget about it, and I looked for an hour or so in which I could sit down, learn, and compose my post…   But it wasn’t Hashem’s ratzon that I get it out that week.  It was a little frustrating, since I love doing this, but it made me realize that my life, and what’s going on around me, is totally in Hashem’s hands.  But it’s consolation to know that I put in my hishtadlus, I made my effort.  This is what we will discuss today, to reflect on Parshat Nasso.


In this parsha, Hashem transferred the mitzvah of Birchas Kohanim, the Priestly Blessing, to Aharon haKohein and his sons.  The bestowing of Birchas Kohanim onto the Jewish People would become a very holy and precious ritual, an event greatly honored for all generations to come.

“Yevarech’cha Hashem v’yishmarecha.  Ya’air Hashem Panav aylecho viychunecha.  Yisa Hashem Panav aylecho v’yaseim l’cha shalom. – May the Lord bless you and watch over you.  May the Lord cause His countenance to shine to you and favor you.  May the Lord raise His countenance toward you and grant you peace.”  {Bamidbar 6:24-26}

You might ask, “Why does Hashem need humans to give us a blessing?  Why can’t Hashem give the brachos directly to us?”.  It might surprise you to learn, that our ancestors, according to the Midrash, posed a complaint along the same lines!  They inquired of Hakadosh Baruch Hu, ‘Why do you need priests to bless us?  We need only Yours, Hashem.  You can simply look down from Your High dwellings and bless Your people.’  And Hashem replied, that even though He gave this mitzvah to the Kohanim, He would be present, and join the Kohanim at the elevated time of the blessing.

We can’t be misled, chas v’shalom, to believe that the Kohanim themselves had the power to make the differences.  Sifrei points out, that the bracha enumerated in the Torah makes sure the Kohanim clearly state that it is all coming from Hashem, for the Torah caps off the bracha with Hashem’s declaration of “v’Ani avaracheim – And I will bless them.”

But the Kohanim were given a mission, by Hashem Himself, to lead the people in their spiritual strivings, and were guides in the moral and ethical paths that define the life of a Jew.  The mitzvah of Birchas Kohanim furthered their obligation as intermediaries between the Bnei Yisroel and Hashem, helping to create a clearer and more powerful relationship.

The first clause of the bracha, Yevarech’cha, is a request for material sustenance.  The basics, we could not live without, and the extra bounty– why do we deserve it?  It is all from Hashem, and only because of His love and generosity.  The second segment of the bracha, Ya’air, alludes to a spiritual blessing, that Hashem be gracious unto us, blessing us with the light of Torah, to love and understand it, and that it remain with our descendants.  The third and final part of the bracha, Yisah, fuses both the material and spiritual– bound together in the blessing of peace.  The three intentions of the blessing, go in ascending order, from basic to most precious, climbing up in an “increasing surge of blessing”, as the great Torah commentary author Nechama Leibowitz describes.

The Kohanim were examples of hishtadlus, effort.  Even though Hashem is the source of all blessings and happenings, we must exert ourselves to become the instruments and chariots for the Divine in this world.  Hashem ultimately decides what will be ‘brought about’ by whom in this world, but we can make ourselves zocheh, meritorious, to be the messengers.

This is exactly what the Kohanim were doing during Birchas Kohanim.  Hashem selected them, because of their merit, to be the messengers, to simply transmit many great values, and to bring down the blessing, to stir Hashem, and call upon Him, to answer the prayers of His people.

And so it is ,when we bless a person.  We are actually requesting of Hashem, to consider our good wishes and requests for the recipient of our bracha, and grant the person these gifts, whether it be parsnassah (a good livelihood), nechama (comfort) in times of pain, or even just a pleasant morning!

So, friends, providing us with an eternal, always-applicable teaching and song, the Torah strikes again.  Each and every one of us must put in our hishtadlus, when we seek a blessing, or a better future.  The world is entirely in G-d’s hands.  He determines who gets what, when, why, through who…  But Hashem doesn’t want it to be so easy to see His hand in every moment of our lives.  He wants us to stand up, work, for “man was made to toil”, and He wants us to come look for him.  No matter who you are, you must try.  You can always call upon Hashem, but don’t forget– you and G-d co-manage your destiny.


The Messenger Bird