web analytics
July 4, 2015 / 17 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Count Your Blessings


Rapps-Rabbi-Joshua-logo-NEW

The articles in this column are transcriptions and adaptations of shiurim by Rav Joseph Ber Soloveitchik, zt”l. The Rav’s unique perspective on Chumash permeated many of the shiurim and lectures he presented at various venues over a 40 plus year period. His words add an important perspective that makes the Chumash in particular, and our tradition in general, vibrant and relevant to our generation.

“And Aharon raised his hands and blessed the people…. And the Glory of Hashem appeared to the people” (Vayikra 9:22-23). The first verse mentions only Aharon, the second mentions both Aharon and Moshe. Rashi says that the first blessing, offered solely by Aharon, was the famous three-part Birkas kohanim, consisting of “Yevorechecha, Ya’eir, and Yisa” (Bamidbar 6:24-26), based on the verse saying that Aharon raised his hands, indicating the blessing of nesiyas kapayim.

That second verse in Vayikra (9:23) tells us that Moshe and Aharon entered the Ohel Moed, and upon exiting they jointly blessed the people. Rashi says this blessing was “Vehe Noam” (Tehillim 90:17): “May the Shechina rest upon us…” Nesiyas kapayim was not associated with the second blessing. Moshe, as we mentioned last week, had the status of a kohen gadol. Why didn’t Moshe participate in the first blessing? Why didn’t he raise his hands in blessing like Aaron raised his hands and bless the people? Why didn’t Moshe and Aharon, the two kohanim gedolim, jointly recite Birkas kohanim upon exiting from the Ohel Moed?

We find that the children of Aharon are sometimes referred to as bnei Aharon hakohanim and other times as bnei Aharon hakohen. Some aspects of the service in the Mishkan were given to Aharon’s children, the kohanim, while others were given specifically to Aharon. All those who succeeded him in the role of kohen gadol acted as his representative, as a virtual Aharon.

For example, the mitzvah of Avodas Yom Kippur was given specifically to Aharon, who, according to most opinions, was permitted to enter the Kodesh HaKodoshim to perform the service in the Holy of Holies any time he wanted. It was only his successors who were restricted to entering once a year, on Yom Kippur, and only then as the representative and personification of Aharon. (This concept is portrayed in the “Atah konanta” description of the Avodas Yom Kippur, recited by nussach Sefard.)

In such cases the children of Aharon are called bnei Aharon hakohen. Aharon is the machshir, the one who provides the license, to subsequent kohanim gedolim as well as kohanim hedyotim (plain priests) to perform their respective service in the Tabernacle and Temple. The Ramban (Bamidbar 8:1) comments that the mitzvah of lighting the menorah was given specifically to Aharon. Even though kohanim hedyotim could also light the Menorah, they were permitted to do so only because Aharon did it before them and they were following suit.

Nesiyas kapayim was another mitzvah where Aharon himself was indispensable. Why do kohanim recite in the blessing that they are sanctified “bikdushaso shel Aharon,” instead of saying that they are sanctified with kedushas kehunah? Because the mitzvah of nesiyas kapayim was given specifically to Aharon, and through him to his descendants in perpetuity. They represent him when performing this mitzvah. Since Aharon alone was given the mitzvah of nesiyas kapayim (and his children through him) and not Moshe, Moshe could not join Aharon in birkas nesiyas kapayim. Therefore the first blessing of Birkas Kohanim was restricted to Aharon. Therefore they offered a different blessing.

Was this second blessing given voluntarily or were they somehow required to bless the people at that point?

It would appear that this was an obligatory blessing on the part of Moshe and Aharon. We find a similar obligatory blessing based on the daily morning korban tamid. The Mishnah (Tamid 32b, Brachos 11b) tells us that in the times of the Mikdash, the kohanim gathered early and the appointed leader would tell them to recite a blessing paragraph, then Kriyas Shema and then an abbreviated Shemoneh Esrei that included Retzei and Birkas Kohanim/Sim Shalom. In the times of the Temple the blessing of Retzei concluded with sh’oscha l’vadcha b’yirah vaavod. This blessing was said after offering the morning korban tamid as supplication that the korban should be accepted. This prayer was to mitigate the potential rejection of the sacrifice.

korbanos can and have been rejected. For example, we find that Hashem rejected the korban of Kayin. We find (Vayikra 26:31) that Hashem promised that he would not accept the korbanos of the people if they sin and not follow His laws. There is no guarantee that Hashem will accept a korban. Therefore a Jew must pray and ask Hashem to accept his korban. The kohanim prayed in the Mikdash that the tamid should be accepted, just as Moshe and Aharon blessed the people with “Vehe Noam,” a prayer that Hashem should accept their korbanos.

Why don’t the kohanim pray for the acceptance of the korban before they actually do the Avoda, instead of reciting their prayer after it? We learn from the prayer of Moshe and Aharon that followed the sacrifices noted in Parshas Shemini that there is a requirement to pray after the offering of the korban. The prayer of Moshe and Aharon was more than a personal prayer. It was the prayer on behalf of klal Yisrael, as the representatives of klal Yisrael, that the korbanos that were just brought by Aharon should be accepted. That prayer was therefore offered only after Aharon performed the service.

We find a similar concept with the anshei ma’amad, who served as the representatives of klal Yisrael and prayed in conjunction with the daily service in the Temple. While one group represented the people in prayer in the Temple area, other groups gathered in various cities to offer prayers coincident with the time of the sacrifice. All these groups fulfilled the requirement of prayer on behalf of those for whom the korban was offered, that it should be accepted.

The concept of prayer for the acceptance of our sacrifices can be found in our Shemoneh Esrei. Twelve of the middle thirteen blessings focus on our personal and communal needs. We ask for wisdom, health, sustenance, etc. The last blessing in the middle section is Shema Koleinu, which is followed immediately by Retzei, asking for acceptance of our Avodah and return to the Temple.

At first glance, these two berachos appear to be redundant. However, on closer inspection we find that they serve vastly different purposes. Tefillah fulfills two aspects: prayer and korban. Shema Koleinu is recited after one concludes his prayers for personal as well as communal needs. We describe Hashem as the ultimate listener and recipient of our prayers. However, He may not always accept them or grant our request. We conclude the middle section with Shema Koleinu, asking that the ultimate accepter of prayer accept and answer our supplications favorably.

From the other perspective, tefillah is called avodah sh’beleiv – it is essentially a korban. The subsequent blessing of Retzei (which is associated with the acceptance of korbanos) asks that not only should Hashem accept our tefillos as prayer and supplication, but as the ultimate korban.

In other words, we ask that Hashem accept our avodah sh’beleiv as tefillah and supplication in Shema Koleinu and then we ask that it also be accepted as sacrifice, korban, in Retzei. There is no duplication. Both aspects of avodah sh’beleiv are distinct and required.

About the Author: Rabbi Joshua Rapps attended the Rav's shiur at RIETS from 1977 through 1981 and is a musmach of Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yitzchak Elchanan. He and his wife Tzipporah live in Edison, N.J. Rabbi Rapps can be contacted at ravtorah1@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Count Your Blessings”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
UN Human Rights Council
UN HRC Condemns Israel (But Not Hamas) for War Crimes
Latest Judaism Stories
Rabbi Avi Weiss

With Ruth, The Torah seems to be stating that children shouldn’t be punished for the sins of parents

Neihaus-070315

Without a foundation, one cannot hope to build a structure.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

Why do we have a parsha in Sefer Shemos named after Yisro who was not only a former idolater, but actually served as a priest for Avodah Zarah!

Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

This Land Is ‘My’ Land
‘[If The Vow Was Imposed] In The Seventh Year…’
(Nedarim 42b)

The Shulchan Aruch in the very first siman states that one should rise in the morning like a lion, implying that simply rising form bed requires strength of a lion, in line with the Midrash.

Attempts to interpret the message of Hashem in the absence of divine prophecy ultimately may twist that message in unintended ways that can lead to calamitous events.

Suddenly, the pilot’s voice could be heard. He explained that this was a special day for those passengers on board who lived in Israel.

If the sick person is thrust into a situation where he is compelled to face his sickness head on, we who are not yet sick can encourage him by facing it with him.

All agree that Jews ARE different. How? Why? The Bible’s answer is surprising and profound.

What’s the nation of Israel’s purpose in the world? How we can bring God’s blessings into the world?

“Is there a difference between rescuing and other services?” asked Ploni.

To my dismay, I’ve seen that shidduch candidates with money become ALL desirable traits for marriage

Bil’am’s character is complex and nuanced; neither purely good nor purely evil.

Amalek, our ultimate foe, understood that when unified, we are invincible and indestructible.

More Articles from Rabbi Joshua Rapps
Rapps-Rabbi-Joshua-logo-NEW

Attempts to interpret the message of Hashem in the absence of divine prophecy ultimately may twist that message in unintended ways that can lead to calamitous events.

Rapps-Rabbi-Joshua-logo-NEW

The greatest of men, Moshe, had to wait for Hashem to sprinkle purifying waters on Bnei Yisrael to mark the conclusion of the period of death.

Until Korach’s rebellion, no one dared challenge Moshe’s authority.

Why did the Torah add baderch btzayschem M’mitzrayim to the command to remember the Miriam incident?

Moshe realized that the halt to their march will have major repercussions. The body that had been so carefully assembled, with a single purpose and goal, began to fray.

Why was Samson singled out as the only Shofet required to be a nazir from cradle to grave?

In Parshas Pinchas the Torah introduces the Mussaf for Shavuos by describing it as Yom HaBikurim when we bring the new offering.

There are no enemies confronting us, there are no terrorists to threaten us, and we can clearly see Hashem’s direction and guardianship of the land.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/count-your-blessings/2014/03/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: