March 27th, 2019

In recording the final moments of the Mishkan’s dedication, the Torah informs us that Aaron blessed the nation (Lev. 9:22). The verse omits the words of the blessing, merely telling us that Aaron gave a blessing.

Rashi, basing himself on Midrashic and Talmudic sources, suggests that the blessing he gave was identical to the Birkat Kohanim formula found in Parshat Nasso. But Ramban is uncomfortable with this idea, and comes up with a suggestion of his own — although he acknowledges that his suggestion is not without its own problems.

Either way, Rashi’s interpretation that Aaron used the Birkat Kohanim formula is puzzling. If he did use that formula, why does the priestly blessing instruction appear in Nasso and not in Shemini? And if the wording for Birkat Kohanim was only articulated at a later stage, how did Aaron know what to say?

Rabbi Dunner presents the sources, and offers insights into the unique circumstances of the Mishkan project – circumstances that prompted Aaron to bless the nation when he did, and to use the words he used.

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