I was skimming through this weeks parsha, and I came across Birchas Kohanim, and I thought to myself, although we say it everyday, how well do we really know it. Therefore, I would like to speak about it for a few minutes. I'm going to hopefully break it down, explain each bracha, and then hopefully bring it all together.
1- יְבָרֶכְךָ יהוה, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ
2- יָאֵר יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶּךָּ
3- יִשָּׂא יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם
Now, lets delve into the first bracha a little bit. "יְבָרֶכְךָ יהוה"-- "May God bless you". "וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ"-- "And safeguard you". Different Mefarshim explain what this bracha is coming to include. The Sifre explains that it's coming to include the brachss later on in Devarim that say we should be triumphant over all our enemies, that our crops should grow properly, our flocks should be abundant and healthy, and so on and so forth. Rashi comes along and says no. This bracha is really coming to include our physical possessions, while the Ibn Ezra comes to add your lifespan. What do these three opinions have in common? As we look at the next two brachos, keep in mind that the first bracha is talking about physicality. Physical prosperity, health, and long life.
"יָאֵר יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶּךָּ"--"May HaShem be illuminate and gracious to you". This refers to "Me'or Torah", the light of Torah. This bracha is asking God to give us the capability of understanding and internalizing the Torah. Through the teachings of the Torah, and Prophets, God sheds His light on mankind. "וִיחֻנֶּךָּ"--"May God be gracious to you". Although God can forgive you if you do something wrong to Him, He cannot forgive you for something you did to a fellow peer, so what you can derive from this is that you should be understanding and loving towards one another.
Now lets take a peak at the final bracha. "יִשָּׂא יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם". The beginning of this bracha, is quite similar to the ending of the previous bracha. In short, you ask Hakadosh Baruch Hu to forgive you for all the harmful sins your have delivered. However, I would like to focus more on the ending of this bracha. "וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם". One may have prosperity, health, food, etc, but if there is no peace, it is all worthless. I have been internalizing this thought, and I came to this realization that this is extremely similar to learning Torah. If you don't feel good, or at ease with your learning, it's absolutely worthless and meaningless. I don't mean that if it's not easy it is meaningless. You're supposed to struggle in your learning, but if you don't find the meaning of the actual learning that you do, then in my opinion, it is pointless.
Let's try to connect the three brachos. If you add the first two brachos, it'll equal the third bracha. If you have prosperity physically with your parnasah, and health, and if you're really learning and yearning to getting closer to God, you'll ultimately live in peace. This also means that you should have a balance. You shouldn't necessarily be learning all day, and you shouldn't really be looking for a parnasah all day, either. You have to have a balance. For some people that's working eight hours a day and learning 30 minutes during your lunch break, while for others, you're supposed to learn eight hours a day and work for a few hours. Therefore, my bracha to everyone is that we should all be blessed with the brachos given to us by the Kohanim, as well as learn a good balance that helps fulfill each bracha of Birchas Kohanim.
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