By: Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Inviting the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
And Hashem Shall Grant You Peace
“…My eyes are fixed on You until You favor me, and hear my prayer, and provide me with sons and daughters who will also be fruitful and multiply, they and their descendents unto all generations, in order that they and we might all engage in the study of Your holy Torah… Therefore answer me, O Eternal, answer me in the merit of our holy Forefathers Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov. For the sake of the fathers save the children, so the branches will be like the roots…” (Shelah’s prayer) This famous prayer said by parents on their children, is said by many especially on Erev Rosh Hodesh Sivan, the month the Torah was given. Interestingly, this very same day is also “Hebron Day”, the day when Hebron, “City of the Fathers and Children”, was liberated in the Six-Day-War. In addition, Hebron is also the “City of Torah”, as the Zohar points out “Hebron – this is Torah, for one who occupies oneself with it is a ‘haber’ (member of the class of Torah scholars)”.
Another prayer said by parents on their children is the Priestly Blessing read in this parsha. In a similar way, “Our Father in Heaven” blesses His “children Israel” through the Cohanim who serve as a conduit for this blessing on a daily basis in many communities of Israel. However, there are many communities, especially the Ashkenazic communities of the Diaspora, who conduct Birkat Cohanim, by the cohanim, on festivals only. The reason given by the poskim for this custom is that Birkat Cohanim must be said with joy, and since most days, except for festivals, the Cohanim are not in a state of joy because of the labors of the week (this emotional burden continuing on Shabbat) therefore they are not to bless the People. Nevertheless, we find that the widespread custom in the Land of Israel where the Cohanim bless the People every day of the week, even among Ashkenazic communities, and even by heavy laborers. According to the afore-mentioned reason for not conducting Birkat Cohanim in the Diaspora it would follow that even in the Land of Israel Birkat Cohanim should not be conducted. Therefore, the poskim have noted that apparently there “is some secret in the spiritual channels of the blessing that descend with the blessing of the Cohanim in the Diaspora, and we do not know how so” (quote from ‘Piskei Tshuvos’). This differentiation between the Holy Land and the Diaspora fits very well with the unique attributes we have discussed in the past describing the Land as “the Land of Joy” and “Land of the Holy Presence”. This year the festival of Shavuot is adjacent to parshat Naso when we read about the Priestly Blessing, so that even the aforementioned communities in the Diaspora can also feel especially connected to this blessing of peace throughout the coming weekend.
The name of this parsha, Naso, means to “lift up.” Indeed this is the time to lift our consciousness to absorb the blessing of peace, the blessing of joy, the blessing of the Holy Presence of our Holy Land. When we lift our consciousness to this, may Hashem also lift us from all corners of the world, as He told us at the Giving of the Torah, “on the wings of eagles [today this is not difficult to imagine on a figurative level…] and I shall bring you to Me,” to the Land of the Holy Presence.
Real Stories from the Holy Land #319
On one Thursday, after a lengthy “Tikun Hatzot,” the members of the Avraham Avinu synagogue in Hebron prayed Shacharit “vatikin” at dawn. Among them was an elderly man that nobody knew from where he came. When they reached the reading of the Torah, they called this elderly man to the third “Yisrael” Aliyah. However, the man refused, saying that he is a Kohen. Therefore, he was offered to return the sefer Torah to the Aron kodesh, which he agreed to do. When this elderly man returned the sefer Torah, instead of returning the sefer to the Aron kodesh, he placed the sefer in a side closet where the invalid sifrei Torah were placed. The community and the rabbi tried to stop him, but he refused to listen and even stopped the rabbi from moving the sefer Torah to the proper Aron kodesh. After the community and this elderly “guest” left, the rabbi went to the sefer Torah and opened it. To his surprise many letters in the sefer Torah had “jumped” from their place and the sefer Torah was considered invalid… The rabbi tried to find the elderly man to apologize, but he was not be found… [by the way, Elijah the Prophet is a Kohen… M.G]
Source: Sefer Hebron p. 322
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