subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Back to This Week's Parsha| Previous Issues

For sponsorships and advertising opportunities, send e-mail to:SHOLOM613@ROGERS.COM


Ch. 6, v. 23: "Ko" - Thus - This word has the numerical value of 25. The Torah says "brochoh" 25 times and also "sholo-m" 25 times. This is in keeping with the words, "Hashem y'vo'reich es amo vasholo-m." (Baal Haturim)

Ch. 6, v. 23: "Omor" - Saying - This word has an additional letter Vov, indicating the six words of blessing that are to follow: "Y'vo'rech'cho, v'yish'm'recho, yo'eir, vichuneko, yiso, sholo-m." It also alludes to the six descriptions of the Torah in T'hilim 19, "Toras, eidus, pikudei, mitzvas, yiras, mish'p'tei."

Ch. 6, v. 23: "Ko s'vorachu es bnei Yisroel omor lo'hem" - Thus shall you bless the bnei Yisroel saying to them - Rashi comments that the word "omor" is structured similarly to "zochor" and "shomor." The Medrash Tanchuma #10 says that from "omor" we derive that the priestly blessing should not be said in a hurry or harried manner, but rather, with patience and care, so that the blessing be effective.

Technical grammar would dictate that the word be "emor," as we find in the beginning of parshas Emor. The same is true with the words "zochor" and "shomor," which in the single, male, command conjugation are likewise "z'chor" and "shmor." No examples for this are being cited, as we all know some places in the Torah where we find these words. The difference between the first letter having a "shvo" (chataf ) and a "kometz" is that the former is the pristine command word and the latter, although also a command, also connotes the action being sustained, ongoing. Indeed, we are commanded to remember the sanctity of Shabbos even before its actual advent by saving savoury portions of food for Shabbos, to daily mention which day of the week it is in relation to Shabbos, and similarly, "shomor," to prepare before Shabbos to see that we do not desecrate it. By the priestly blessing the same is true. Rather than just hurriedly blurt the words out of their mouths, the Kohanim are exhorted to say the words slowly and with devout intention.

Commentators explain that the requirement to say the words of the priestly benediction clearly, slowly and with a raised voice, so that the blessing be effective, is the fulfillment of the last word of their pre-blessing blessing, "Boruch atoh asher kidshonu b'mitzvosov v'tzivonu l'voreich es amo Yisroel B'AHAVOH." The Torah does not overtly say that the Kohanim must recite the blessing with love and concern, but it is included in the exhortation of "Omor," to be said slowly and clearly. This is "b'ahavoh."

Thus, "Omor" is just like "zochor' and "shomor" in that it is somewhat ongoing, and not said hurriedly.

Tosfos in his first words on the mishnoh Gitin says that a "get" writ is formatted to be written on 12 liones. This is a prompt to continuously have in mind the required "lishmoh," for its name, purpose, as a document that releases the woman from marriage. The letters of the word GeT have the numerical value of 12, the number of lines our Rabbis have instituted to be written. Perhaps the same can be said here. There are 15 words in the priestly benediction, and the word "B'AHaVoH," also has the numerical value of 15, a reminder throughout the recital of the words to say them with loving care.

The gemara Psochim 110 says that the priestly blessing brings such a great level of protection on the bnei Yisroel that they are guarded even from the risk of the possible negative affects of "zugos," having certain things in pairs. (A practical halachic example of this is that it is prohibited to consume exactly 2 eggs.) The three verses of the blessings contain only odd numbers of words, 3,5,7, to counter the negativity of even numbers. Rabbi S.Z. Orbach says that this is likewise contained in the word "b'ahavoh" of the pre-blessing blessing. We can group the letters of this word as follows: Beis-Alef = 3, Hei = 5, Veis-Hei = 7, the same as the number of words in the verses.

Since the efficacy of these blessings rests upon their being said with devotion and intention we might add the following: There is a gematria concept of numerical values for the "nikud." Every dot is a Yud = 10. Every stroke is a Vov = 6. A "kometz" is a stroke and a dot below it = 16. Had this word been "Emor," as would normally be the way of expressing single male command, we would have six dots of "nikud," the five of the "chataf segol" and the "cholom," = 60. The corresponding letter is Samach, which stands for soton, as pointed out by Rishonim in numerous places in the Torah. There are 60 words in the 3 verses of these blessings to ward off the negative affects of the soton. However, by changing the "nikud" to a "kometz" we have two dots = 20, and a stroke = 6, a total of 26, alluding to Hashem's Holy Name of mercy. (n.l.)

With all the above we have a penetrating insight into a seemingly puzzling verse in Dvorim 21:5, which reads, "V'nigshu haKohanim bnei Levi ki vom bochar Hashem Elokecho l'shorso ulvo'reich b'shem Hashem v'al pi'hem yi'h'yeh kol riv v'chol noga." They, besides the elders of the community closest to the site where a murdered person was found, are called to take part in the "egloh arufoh" ritual and beseech Hashem for the atonement of the bnei Yisroel for the murder. This verse prefaces their taking part by explaining that it is appropriate for them to do so because they have been chosen to do service for Hashem and to administer the priestly blessing. Therefore through them arguments are settled, with Kohanim playing a prominent role as judges, and as the decision makers on matters of skin afflictions, "n'go'im." What is the linkage?

When we have a disagreement between two parties the Torah wants more than just a forced verdict. The Torah wants both parties to go home satisfied, even the loser. Since Hashem has given the Kohanim the responsibility to bless the nation and they do it "b'ahavoh," this is felt by everyone, and even the loser of a dispute more willingly accepts the ruling of a Kohein because he has blessed this person "b'ahavoh," not just perfunctorily. Similarly, when it comes to purifying oneself from a "nega," the Torah says, "V'hi'nei nirpo nega hatzoraas min hatzorua" (Vayikra 14:3), - and behold the affliction is healed from the afflicted person. This phrase seems to be reversed, and it should have said that the afflicted person is healed from his affliction. Yet the verse says the reverse. Hashem is using very powerful medicine to bring the loshon hora speaker to repent. He has a clear physical sign of a spiritual disorder and he is quarantined. He might fool himself into thinking that these hardships in and of themselves serve the purpose of cleansing his soul. The verse therefore tells us that this is not true. The healing of the "nega hatzoraas" must come "min hatzorua." He must do true soul-searching and decide to mend his ways.

This does not readily come about when he feels that he is sentenced to solitary confinement by a Kohein. The Kohein could have ruled that the skin affliction is not a 'nega," and the afflicted person might hold a grudge against him, thus hindering his doing soul searching and truly repenting. The verse in Dvorim therefore says that since he blesses the nation, he is the appropriate person to decide "nega" matters, as when he decides that it is a "nega" the "metzora" accepts this with equanimity, knowing that the Kohein only has his best in mind. It is therefore most befitting for Kohanim to take part in the "egloh arufoh" procedure because they offer a truly heartfelt prayer for the atonement and well-being of the nation, "Ka'peir l'amcho Yisroel." (n.l.)



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha, Chasidic Insights and Chamisha Mi Yodei'a

Back to This Week's Parsha| Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel