Parshas Nasso – The Priestly Blessing

By Shalom Olensky


This week in the Torah:

G-d spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, ‘Thusly shall you bless the Children of Israel; say unto them, “G-d shall bless you and guard you. G-d shall shine His countenance unto you, and favor you. G-d shall lift His countenance unto you and shall place before you peace.”’” They shall place My name upon the Children of Israel, and I shall bless them. –Numbers, 6:22–27.


What is the significance of the blessing being threefold? And what is added by G-d concluding the instruction to bless, by saying “I shall bless them”? Is that not already implicit in the blessing of Aaron and his sons, in G-d’s name?


Throughout the Torah we find significance in the number three: The three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The division of Jews into the three groups Kohain, Levi and Yisrael. The three Holy Temples, (the third of which that shall be built by Moshiach and shall last forever).

The significance of all these are summed up by the Mishnah in Avot (1:2): “The world stands upon three things; Torah, Service (Prayer), and Deeds of Loving-Kindness.


Since Jews tend to be divided, in their aptitude for worship, into the aforementioned three modes, the blessing of the Kohanim to each and all Jews is threefold. And yet because all Jews make up a single unit, G-d Himself concludes with one single blessing for them all which a) demonstrates how the dichotomy of these three levels is really no dichotomy at all because it is all from and included in the One G-d, and b) bestows on the Jews a blessing from the Essence of G-d which contains every and all blessing and unites Jews in the above manner.


These verses were set into the order of the Morning Blessings to be said upon arising, even before the Morning Prayers begin. This is so that a) a Jew can bless any and every Jew each morning, and b) a Jew can thereby display love of one’s fellow man by blessing him with the verses that depict Jewish Unity, and can c) thereby set the proper tone for the day’s prayers which set the proper tone for the whole day.


A Jew must know that he is, at the same time, both an equal member of the entire Jewish nation, part of a single whole; as well as an individual with his or her own unique gift to share with the world.

(Based on the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s talk – Adar 19, 5751 (1991))


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