THE POWER OF AN ANCIENT BLESSING

June 15th, 2016

Rabbi Dunner introduces the mitzvah of “Birkat Kohanim” – the priestly blessing. The first High Priest, Aharon Hakohen, his children, and all their descendants, are told that they must bless their fellow Jews using a specific formula of verses.

The whole concept of the priestly blessing is puzzling. Why would the Jews need an intermediary to bless them – surely God does not need an intermediary in order to bestow blessing? Why specifically the priests? And if this is a Torah obligation, why was the Ashkenazic custom established to discard the priestly blessing every day, and to include it only in prayers on festival days?

Indeed, why has this mitzvah not been reinstated on a daily basis, and why in Eretz Yisrael is said every day even by the Ashkenazic communities? Finally, is this mitzva purely a priestly obligation to bless, or is it also incumbent on a non-Kohen Jew to be blessed?

Rabbi Dunner looks at a variety of sources and commentaries in a quest to discover the exact details of this fascinating mitzva, gaining insight into its history and its meaning.

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