Larchmont Temple Chevra Torah

Questioning faith in the parsha



Larchmont Temple—Har Chayim

The F*-WORD…[F _ _ _ _]…Questions, Conflicts & Connection of FAITH


NASO—Numbers 6:22-27; 7:1-2,89


WHAT is the connection between the blessing we seek from God,

The blessing[s] we bring to God, and the Presence of God in our lives?




6:22                    The Lord spoke to Moses saying: Speak to Aaron and his sons and say: Thus shall you bless the Children of Israel

AKEDAT YITSCHAK…What purpose is served by the fact that this precept enjoins that the benedictions should proceed from the priests to the people?  Surely it is God on High who blesses…Is it up to them to in some way assist?

R’S.ROBBINS…Since the priestly responsibility “to bless” using the Birkhat Kohanim was an act of obligation, not of authority, the blessing was bestowed not by action of the Priest, but only as response from the people’s desire to be blessed.

SIFREI“Say to them” Why does Torah add this phrase?  Is it not obvious that Aaron and his sons are to offer the blessing for Israel?  Rather, it is to teach that the blessings must be recited  in a manner which is “to them,” so that they are able to hear the blessings.

6: 24-26    The Lord bless you and keep you…The Lord deal kindly with you and be gracious unto you…

The Lord bestow His favor upon you and grant you peace.

BACHYA…The blessings flow from below to above, blessing the material realm, the realm of wisdom, then the spiritual realm of God’s most perfect peace.

RAMBAN…The blessings flow from above to below, for the first part of each is on a heavenly plane “May the Lord bless, May the Lord illuminate, May the Lord lift…” In contrast to the latter part of each—focused on man.

GILLMAN…The blessing is the entryway to Divine dialogue. “How long, O Lord, will you ignore me? How long will you hide Your face from me?…Look at me; answer me!”  To look at someone is to acknowledge that other person’s presence, to acknowledge the relationship, as opposed to turning away.

V. 27      Thus shall they link My Name with the Children of Israel—and I will bless them.

RASHI“They shall place My Name”  This implies that the Kohanim will bless the Children of Israel with the Ineffable Name… “And I will bless them” which means that the blessing will be Israel’s, as if God was saying “I agree.”

TALMUD…R’ Yishma-el taught: We learned of the blessing for the Jews by the priests, but we did not learn of one by the Holy One?   Thus, “And I shall bless them” teaches us that the priests bless the Jews and the Holy One confirms it.

R’ Akiva taught: We learned of a blessing for the Jews by the priests but we did not learn of one for the priests?  Thus,

“And I shall bless them” teaches us that the priests bless the Jews and the Holy One blesses the priests. [Chullin 49a]

HIRSCH…The priest who “blesses” is but an instrument, a medium through which the benediction is expressed…Only after they have been summoned on behalf of “B’nai Yisrael” do they recite the blessing, with the representative reader in the congregation acting as prompter…Thus the congregation invokes the Divine blessing through the vocal medium of the priest.

 7:1  It was on that day—when Moses finished setting up the Mishkan, he annointed it and consecrated it…

RASHI“when Moses finished”…The word “KaLoT—finished”is written in short form, as if it were to read “KaLat—bride,”

which implies that on the day the Mishkan was set up, Israel was like the bride who enters her wedding canopy.

7:2/3              Those in charge of enrollments drew near, and they brought their offering before God…

RASHI…For Moses did not himself accept the offering from their hands, until it had been instructed for him to do so from the mouth of the OmniPresent One.  [B’Midbar Rabbah]

7:89     When Moses arrived at the Tent of meeting to speak with Him, he heard The Voice speaking with him

from atop the cover that was upon the Ark of Testimony, from between the cherubim—so He spoke with him.

RASHI… Here we apply the principle, when there are two verses which stand in contradiction—a third must come and resolve between them.    One verse says: “And God spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting” [Levit 1:1]  which is outside the partition (where the Ark rests)—While another verse says: “And I shall speak to you from atop the cover..” [Exod 25:22]  Then comes our verse to resolve the apparent contradiction between the two.  For Moses would come to the Tent of Meeting….And there he would hear the Voice, which would indeed come from atop the cover…And where was that?…

From between the two Cherubim.  [Sifrei 58]

TALMUD“he heard The Voice speaking —Eylav—with him”  It is not written “to him—lo”  but “with him”  to teach us that Moses heard the Voice, as one speaks to another, though Israel could not directly hear.

RASHI“speaking to/with him…Mid-Daber”—This is the reflexive HitPa-el and thus has the same meaning as if it read  “Mit-Daber—speaking with Himself.”  This implies that the Holy One would speak with Himself, and Moses would be there to listen.

 “… from between the cherubim—so He spoke with him.”

EXODUS 25:18-22…“Make two cherubim of gold…one at one end and another at the other end, of one piece…They shall face one another…Place the cover on top of the Ark, after putting the Pact I give you inside.  There I will meet with you and there I will

Become known to you, from above the cover, from between the cherubim…all that I command for  the Children of Israel.”

TALMUD…Each cherub, one male and one female, had the image of a child’s face.  [Sukkah, 5b]

J.P.S“Thus He spoke with him…”  Fulfilling finally the promise of God in Exodus 25….Only upon the conclusion of the first public service, after the seven day consecration of the Mishkan, beginning with the Priestly Blessing, was Moses again permitted to enter the Tent of Meeting, as God’s promise to Moses/Israel was fulfilled, “from between the Cherubim.”

Drash…Confronting Chaos—Finding FAITH





R’DAVID BLUMENTHAL…How often have I as a father blessed my children?  How often have I, as rabbi, blessed a congregation, a bride or a groom?  In so doing I have evoked the deepest hopes I have…I have always tried to purify myself to invoke God’s presence. I have even tried to be a conduit for God’s Power.  But I have never thought of my blessing someone else as giving pleasure to God….A true blessing must be for the glory of God.  It must transcend the one who prays it and the one who is prayed for….To bless and to be blessed is not a social matter.  It is not a giving—It is a pouring of God; from God, for God.  To pray and to be prayed for is not a matter of substance and content. It is an address of God—for God.  As R’ Levi Yitschak teaches: “True blessing is a pouring forth of energy we receive—a channeling of Divine power…”

R’ REUVEN PELCOVITZ…God is an overflow received by each prophet according to his own powers of perception.  As the Rambam states:  God is an Intellect always in action—-In other words, God is at one and the same the Knowledge and the Giver of Knowledge, the One who knows—the transmission of Knowing—and the gift of Knowledge itself…This is beyond the capacity of the ear to hear and of the mind to apprehend.”  The S’forno expands, explaining that God makes Himself known through a Voice, One which is always speaking.

R’STEVE ROBBINS…The three-fold blessing has a dearly stated goal: to “set the Name of God upon Israel” so that they will be blessed by bearing it….The simple and elegant beauty of the blessing belies the mystic dynamic…It moves in a developmental process from one stage of life to the next—body, mind and spirit; unifying all levels of existence into a single “unified field of being” expressing the pervasive presence of the Divine in all….The blessing is meant to take us deeper into the experience of unification, by merging our being into the greater structure of all existence.  The true blessing is our unification/shlemut, with the process of existence itself…The sum of all of this for us is to know that the full blessing of God is always present in every aspect of our world and our lives…. When we are called “to bless,” we come not to represent ourselves, but to represent, in our living, the sacred Being of God which is in us and between us all…

R’LARRY HOFFMAN…Note well how God’s blessings cascade down upon us: not directly, but through each other.  For the priests blessed the people only after the Chazan blessed them.  And How was the Chazan empowered?  By the people, of course, as Jewish law makes clear that the Chazan is the Shaliach Tsibur—the agent of the congregation.”  The universe of created things thus constitutes its own ecosystem in which blessing circulates among us.  Those who give will never run out. For the very act of blessing renews the spiritual resource of the giver.  Thus, in the end, says the priestly benediction, we will find peace—shalom—derived from shalem, meaning fullness.  For that is our lot: in blessing others to find ourselves replenished, to know the fullness that is life—the unlimited supply of blessing which is our sole Source of light…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: