Parashat Naso

Human Vessels For Blessing

By asking the priests to bless the people, God gives them an opportunity to serve as role models of caring for the people.

Print this page Print this page

Yet we might also ask: If God wished to bless the people with a direct, Divine blessing, why were priests given this special role at all? Certainly there would be no risk of theological confusion among the Israelites if the Holy One simply announced the blessing without anybody's help!

Rashi says something that may be helpful here: saying to them...this is a full (spelling, indicating:) do not bless them in haste, nor in hurried excitement, but with full consciousness (kavannah), and with a whole heart.

Rashi believes that the priests were commanded to have the proper reverence as well as the proper wording. Perhaps then we can say that the priests were chosen not only as vessels of blessing, but also as role models of caring for the people. Maybe God didn't need the priests to deliver a blessing, maybe God needed the kohanim (priests) to show the other Israelites what it meant to be reverent and loving, to wish the best for someone else, to pray for another with a "whole heart."

In other words, God did not want these ritual leaders to have Divine powers, but rather, a full humanity--and maybe that's why these words still move us today.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Rabbi Neal J. Loevinger

Rabbi Neal Joseph Loevinger is currently the rabbi of Temple Beth-El in Poughkeepsie, NY. A former student at Kolel, he served as Kolel's Director of Outreach from late 1999-2001. He was ordained in the first graduating class of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of the University of Judaism, and holds a Master's of Environmental Studies from York University in Toronto.