Sharing Torah Insights

Nasso- Can’t Borrow me Love

Posted on ח׳ בסיון ה׳תש״ע (May 21, 2010) | in Nasso | by

The Lord said to Moses, Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them. (Nasso 6:22)

The kohanim, priests, are given the commandment to bless the People of Israel. The priests ascend to the platform in front of the ark, spread their hands, and say the aforementioned verses. In the land Of Israel, this is done daily; in the Diaspora this is done only on Festivals.

There is a discussion in the Halchachik deciders (of Jewish Law) if some of the priests in a given congregation are allowed to merely stand and say amen to each of the verses that their fellow priests mention. If allowed, this practice would be utilizing the concept in Jewish Law known as “Shomea Koneh”/ one that hears another making a blessing (and answers amen to it) is considered as if they themselves recited the blessing.

Rabbi Avraham Pam, Zt”l (of blessed memory), thinks that this practice should not work in the case of the priestly blessing. Rather, each and every priest in the congregation must ascend and deliver the blessing themselves.

What is the difference between the Priestly Blessing and many other blessings when this concept may be used, like kiddush on Friday night, for example?

Rav Pam (with the the enumeration of Rav Rosner) explains that in this instance a priest cannot transfer the entire essence of the Priestly Blessing through answering amen to his fellow priests’ recitation, because an additional factor cannot be transferred through the heard word. The Blessing before the recitation of the verses says that “Blessed is God….to bless your nation of Israel with Love”. Can one person merely express his love for another by saying “I agree with what he/she said”-?! (This is what amen is after all.)

Imagine a two couples are eating out at a resturant together. One husband says to his wife “Honey, I Love you”. The second husband turns to his wife and says ‘ditto’. (I would not want to be that husband)

Love must be expressed from the heart; an extremely personal recounting of deep affection of one for another. If a priest wants to bless the holy nation of Israel, he must do so on his own, with his own unique thoughts and feelings.

[See the Beis HaLevi at the end of his kuntris, piece, on Chanukah, entitled (Binyan Birchas Kohanim) for a second answer to our question.]

Good Shabbos from YU, Yaakov

PS- I realized that also at the end of kiddush on Friday night we use the term with love to thank God for taking us out of Egypt. Yet, we are still allowed to use the concept of shome’a koneh! Food for thought. let me know if you have an answer.

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