Birchas Kohanim and Food Boxes
[Editor’s note: As a memory of my beloved brother Shaya, I would like to continue sending out his pearls of wisdom that he has shared with all of you in the past. For some of you this may ring a bell and for others it may appear to be totally new. May the learning of Shaya’s Divrei Torah inspire us to change our ways and thereby give an Aliya to the neshama of our dear beloved Shaya whom we miss so much. A special thank you to Aaron Friedman for always looking over the divrei torah.]
Parshas Naso lays the exact wording of Birchas Kohanim. The simple understanding of Birchas Kohanim is that the Kohanim are blessing us. The Akeidas Yitzchak asks several questions on this: 1. Why do we need an intermediary between us and Hashem to give us Brachos? 2. If the blessing comes from the Kohanim THEMSELVES, why, in this short three-stanza bracha, do they mention HASHEM’S name THREE times, once in EVERY stanza? 3. Why is there a rule that they can’t add to the bracha if it’s their own bracha anyway?
The Akeidas Yitzchak therefore understands that the Kohanim are conveying to us that Hashem is the source of all blessing. They are reminding us to recognize that everything is from Hashem. Hence, they keep saying Yivarechicha HASHEM…, Ya’air HASHEM…, Yisa HASHEM…, teaching us that all that we have is from Him.
If this is true, then the question arises: why is it specifically the Kohanim who teach us this concept?
I’d like to suggest that since the Kohanim had no nachala [inheritance] in Eretz Yisroel, they didn’t have material wealth and security which might have led them into thinking that their talents and wisdom were the reasons for their successes. They were totally dependent on Hashem to provide for them. Hence, it was much easier for them to recognize and live with this fundamental concept. Therefore, Hashem specifically chose them to convey this message to the rest of us.
Editor’s note- As I was looking over the dvar torah, I couldn’t help but think how timeless Shaya’s words are. I think that this lesson was ingrained in many people over the last couple years due to the total disruption of the world caused by Covid-19 and more recently, in the war in Ukraine. People lost savings in stocks; many people who were secure in their jobs found themselves without any jobs etc. Food and gas prices have skyrocketed. A complete upheaval from anything that people were used to. A lesson that we can take out from here is, that is not our successes that determine what money we have, rather it is all dependent on Hashem.
As an aside, one of the many benefits that resulted from the COVID pandemic is that many many families merited to receive free food boxes for many weeks. Many families that may not have been able to afford to make a Yom Tov or Shabbos now had the opportunity to make Shabbos and Yom Tov in style, with delicious chickens and meats and baked goods galore.
Perhaps, as it appears that it may be ending, now would be a good time to reflect on all the bracha that Hashem has given us. Let us thank Hashem for allowing us to live peacefully in a Medina shel Chesed that provided the funds for us to merit to have all that delicious food for Shabbos, Yom Tov and during the week. Perhaps now would be a good opportunity if one hasn’t done so already, to thank those who prepared the delicious food boxes; from the planners all the way to the ones who physically distribute each box.
Let us also take a moment to reflect on all the good that Hashem gives to us constantly, as all too often we only realize how good something is after it is already gone.
One final point about this; let us try to reinforce our belief and trust in Hashem and remind ourselves that the same Hashem who provided for us from the minute that we were created, Who has given us the food boxes each week, can and will take care of us for the rest of our lives.
May we take this lesson to heart, to internalize within us as we struggle through this new test in life, that Hashem is the source of all blessings and that He wants to give, and all Hashem wants is for us to ask for it.}