נשא

This week’s parsha, between detailing genealogies and lists of sacrifices given at the inauguration of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), spells out the priestly blessing which is still recited regularly today.  The blessing reads: “May Hashem bless you and keep you; may Hashem shine His face upon you, and be gracious to you; may Hashem shine His countenance on you, and give you peace” (6:24-26, translation mine).  While my intuition about the first clause of the blessing ties it to health – may Hashem keep you healthy – Sforno sees the blessing as monetary, quoting the famous rabbinic idea “if there is no flour [money] there is no Torah.”  With this interpretation, Sforno goes on to say that “keeping you” refers to avoiding theft, as the taking of your wealth would nullify the first blessing.  I think that the difference in outlook reflects our different times, as I see it as common knowledge today that no amount of money will be desirous without health in which to enjoy those resources.  In contrast, Sforno, and the Israelites in the parsha, did not have the same medical issues that we do today, due in large part to not living as long.  Sforno, further, lived in the Middle Ages, where prosperity for Jews was rare, and therefore wealth might have been the blessing most prayed for in the community.  As the priestly blessing leaves the specifics unsaid, the blessing stands the test of time by being easily applied to each one of our historical contexts.

A blessing for us

Keeping us from all harms

Seeing God’s grace

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