Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  Page title
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Of Prisons and Fires

According to the Zohar, Birkas Kohanim is meant to be recited each time with the same joy that Aharon felt on the final day of the inauguration of the Mishkan (as cited in the Aruch Hashulchan 128,49). Some opinions say that an unmarried man may not participate in Birkas Kohanim, since without a wife he cannot experience true joy. Although halacha ultimately permits a single man to say Birkas Kohanim, he is permitted to abstain from reciting the blessing (Rema 128,34).

During the time of the Rishonim, a group of prominent Ashkenazic rabbis decreed that Birkas Kohanim should be recited only during Yamim Tovim (Responsa Beis Ephraim 6). The exact reasons for this decision are not known, but it is likely that it was connected to the intense hardships that their communities were experiencing at that time, which did not allow for them to feel joy. This ruling is upheld until this day and, outside of Israel, Ashkenazim recite Birkas Kohanim only on Yom Tov (Rema 128,44).

The Vilna Gaon and his students tried very hard to reinstate the daily Birkas Kohanim, but many obstacles blocked their efforts. In one instance the Vilna Gaon was arrested on false charges the day before a public Birkas Kohanim was planned. Rav Chaim of Volozhin, the Gaon’s closest disciple, once tried as well. The night before the planned event, fire razed half the town of Volozhin, including the shul where Birkas Kohanim was planned (as cited in Responsa Mashiv Davar 2,104 and Aruch Hashulchan 128,64). Eventually these attempts were abandoned.

Jews will often travel great distances and spend a long time waiting in order to receive blessings from a tzaddik. While a bracha from a Gadol is very special, Birkas Kohanim offers us something greater and more powerful – a bracha directly from Hashem Himself. Whether we are able to hear it every day or only on the Yamim Tovim, Birkas Kohanim is a unique opportunity, and we should try to make the most of it.

During Birkas Kohanim Hashem gazes at us through the five windows created by the hands of the kohanim. By concentrating on this blessing we express our mutual longing during this moment of closeness.


Text Copyright © 2011 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 

ARTICLES ON BESHALACH AND TU BESHVAT:

View Complete List

Booty Is Risky
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5760

As the Season Turns
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767

A Good Night's Sleep
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5760

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Freedom Revisited
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5761

Israel's Secret Weapon
Rabbi Pinchas Avruch - 5763

Leaving to Prey
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5773

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The Splitting Of The Sea and the Concept of Hidur Mitzvah
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5773

Guaranteed Results!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5771

Like Manna from Heaven
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5767

> Roots
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5766

A Stiff-Necked People
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5761

Hashem Tests Hearts
Shlomo Katz - 5769

ArtScroll

Nothing's More Natural Than Nature
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5759

Trying Experience
Rabbi Raymond Beyda - 5765

Think Again!
Rabbi Label Lam - 5764

How Did Pharaoh Do It?
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5764



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information