Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Nasso

The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parsha this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

Parshas Nasso includes the language of Birkas Kohanim which can be found in Bamidbar 6:23-26. The third pasuk of the blessing ends with the words V'Yasem Lecha Shalom- that Hashem should establish peace for you.

R' Frand observed that the verbiage of establish peace is curious, as a more common expression for the granting of peace would be one V'Yitain - that Hashem should give peace.  However, even in the blessing of peace which concludes Shemoneh Esreh, the language of the beracha begins "Sim Shalom."

R' Frand quoted R' Chaim Kanievsky, who explains that there are two ways to make peace. There can be peace when two feuding friends or business partners shake hands and make up. There is also peace when the business amicably dissolves and the parties go their separate ways. 

R' Kanievsky explains that the use of the word "Sim" demonstrates a peace where the parties do continue to coexist. He demonstrates it from the pasuk in Vayikra 6:3, which discusses the Terumas Hadeshen, the removal of the ash from the altar. The Torah writes of the Kohain - "V'Samo" that he should place the ashes by the altar. The Gemara in Temurah explains that this placement was to be peaceful, with the ashes all together in one place and not scattered. 

This is the blessing of peace.

R' Frand closed the vort by discussing the minhag of wishing Yasher Koach to the Kohain after he completes the priestly blessing. [My father has always been a strong observer of this minhag and he has it on to me as well]. 

R' Frand quoted the Rashash who explains that the minhag of the kohanim is to remain by the aron until the completion of shemoneh esreh, so that when they come down the congregation can wish them yasher koach without violating the proscription against speaking during chazars hashatz. 

R' Frand asked - why is this a mitzva to wish them yasher koach for fulfilling the obligation to bless the Jews? This is a relatively easy mitzva to perfom. Besides, no one wishes you a yasher koach when you take a lulav, or sit in the sukkah or put on tefillin. So why is this different?

R' Frand answered that birkas kohanim is different because the kohanim are commanded to bless the Jews "B'ahava" - with love. This commandment requires the kohain to bless with a full heart, even if the kohain himself is having problems which are weighing on his mind. So this yasher koach is coming to thank the kohain for putting aside the personal troubles on his mind, so that he blesses the Jews with a full heart.

R' Frand illustrated this by giving the example of going to a wedding. One can congratulate the new couple by wishing them a monotone mazel tov, or by being laudatory and praising them. A person attending the wedding might feel jealous because his life is not perfect and the new couple has everything set for them. However, the correct way to congratulate is to do it with a full heart and be happy for others despite not having a perfect life of his own.

This is the challenge to the kohain - to look beyond his personal troubles and with full mouth bless the Jews. One who can do so is certainly deserved of a yasher koach.

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