Office of the Chief Rabbi

D’var Torah: Parashat Nasso

In this week’s D’var Torah for Nasso, the Chief Rabbi explains how to give the perfect blessing. 

How do you give a successful blessing? In Parashat Nasso, Hashem commands the Kohanim to bless the people. Just before the well-known formula for the blessing is presented, Hashem says to the Kohanim, “Ko Tevarchu et Bnei Yisrael – In this way, you must bless the People.” But the Torah does not specify what “this way” actually is.

The Rambam explains, “Ko Tevarchu – In this way you must bless,” meaning with these exact words. If, for example, there is a Kohen who wants to embellish, he wants to shower the nation with additional blessings, he is not allowed to. He must use these words, and only these words.

Similarly, it doesn’t matter if you’re blessing one person or many people, a man or a woman, it is the same formula: “Yevarechecha Hashem V’Yishmarecha.” That is how you bless.

Me’am Lo’ez explains that the words “Ko Tevarchu – this is how you bless”  is connected to the previous one which deals with a a Nazarite, who abstains from strong drink. Similarly, in order to bless, the Kohen must never be intoxicated. He has to have a clear mind in order to bless the people in a responsible manner.

The Maggid of Mezritch gives a marvellous explanation. He says, “This is how you bless the people – Ko Tevarchu K’moh Sh’heim” – just as they are. Accept them for who they are and try, through your blessing, to enable each unique person to achieve his or her own full and maximum potential.

So when a Kohen wakes up in the morning, knowing that he is going to bless the people, he should not think to himself, “Which shul should I go to?” or “Which community is worthy of my blessing?” Everybody is worthy of it. He must have a natural affection for absolutely every individual.

The same applies to anyone giving a blessing, to parents, to educators, to community leaders. In order to bless successfully, we need to have genuine love for whoever may be in front of us. To accept them for who they are and through our ways and our words, to challenge them to reach greater heights of attainment.

Now we can understand the wording of the bracha that the Kohanim recite before they Duchan: “Levareich Et Amo Yisrael Be’ahava” – G-D, You have commanded us “to bless the people of Israel with love.” It is only when you genuinely love people that you can be as a blessing for them.

Shabbat Shalom


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