Vol 33.08 - Naso 2                                         Spanish French Audio  Video

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(5748) Rashi: (Num 6:24) s.v. "Yivorchecha".

The innovation of the Priestly Blessings (Birkat Kohanim) "that your possessions should be blessed"  versus all the other blessings in the Torah. Resolving the elaborate wording on Rashi (s.v Yishmrecha) and Rashi (Num. 6:25) s.v. "Ya'eir"



1. On the verse (Num. 6:24):

"May the L-rd bless you and watch over you." (יברכך ה' וישמרך).

The Sages (Sifri, Tanchuma, Bamidbar Rabba, and others) offer many explanations regarding the meaning of the blessing, “bless you” and “watch over you”.

However, Rashi, in his commentary on Torah, chooses just one of them, as will be explained.

Together with this, he mentions and concludes:

“There are many homiletic interpretations” – and specifies that they are from the Midrash.

2. In the beginning of the verse, Rashi states, “May (the L-rd) bless you” (יברכך / Yevarechecha):

And explains, “Your possessions shall be blessed” (שיתברכו נכסיך)

Seemingly, one could wonder:

Even according to the simple meaning of the verse, it is probable to say that Birkat Kohanim is an extremely general blessing. Therefore, why does Rashi choose, in this comment, “your possessions shall be blessed”, a blessing that is solely limited to one’s possessions – and he does not explain that it is a general blessing - that a person should be blessed in all of his aspects?

It is even more puzzling:

 The first explanation in the Sifri here, on the verse is:

“’May the L-rd bless you’: with the explicit blessing (in Torah, in another place – Dev. 28:3-6) . . Blessed are you in the city, and blessed are you in the field. . Blessed will be your basket and your kneading bowl. . You will be blessed at your arrival, and blessed at your departure. All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you. When is this? If you will hearken to the voice of the L-rd, your G-d”.

According to this, “Yevarechecha” includes the blessing, not just in a person’s possessions, but also regarding his body and progeny. Moreover, even blessings over spiritual aspects of those who are blessed. (as it states in the continuation of the verses, “The L-rd will establish you as His holy people etc.” and others),

Therefore, why does Rashi omit this explanation, which seemingly fits the simple meaning (Pshat) of the verse (which is speaking of G-d’s blessing that is explicit in the Torah (in another place), and with extremely general blessings) – and cites the explanation of, “your possessions shall be blessed”?

One must also examine the Rashi’s precise wording, “your possessions shall be blessed”:

The source of this explanation is in the Sifri here. However there, the expression is, “bless you: with possessions” (בנכסים).

It is not understood:

  1. What did Rashi see, that causes him to change from the wording of the Sifri, and from its context, and write, “your possessions shall be blessed”, which you already possess.
  2. Why does he repeat, “shall be blessed” (שיתברכו נכסיך)
  3. We find a similar Rashi previously, regarding Avraham, where Rashi explains, “I will bless you” – “with money”. Seemingly, Rashi should have explained the two places equally.

3. one could say that the explanation of this is:

It has already been delineated, previously, in Parshat Bechukotai, the multitude blessings that come to Bnei Yisroel, when they fulfill Torah and Mitzvot. Therefore, when we learn regarding the Mitzvah of Birkat Kohanim, that there is a special blessing incumbent upon the kohanim to bless Bnei Yisroel – the question arises:

What is the innovation of Birkat Kohanim versus the blessings that G-d has already promised to them in His Torah?

One cannot say that the entire innovation of Birkat Kohanim is that it also blesses Bnei Yisroel, whose (lack of) observance of Torah and Mitzvot precludes them for a blessing. For it is simple that there is an innovation also for those who do observe Torah and Mitzvot, over those that are promised in all the blessings that are delineated in Parshat Bechukotai. On the contrary – it is probable that there is an advantage of this special blessing.

This is the reason that Rashi does not explain, “Yevarechecha” like the (first) explanation of the Sifri, that it refers to the “explicit blessing” (in Devarim). For on the contrary, this is the very reason (היא הנותנת). Namely, that it is impossible to say (according to Pshat) that this is the blessings of Birkat Kohanim:

For, since this is an, “explicit” blessing (namely, that G-d promised this blessing, in His Torah) – it is understood that this is not the blessing that the Kohanim bless Bnei Yisroel.

However, due to this reason, there also is no place to explain, “Your possessions shall be blessed”

(Either “with money”, or even “with wealth”)

like the Midrash Rabba and the Tanchuma. For even this blessing has already been included in the blessings that are enumerated in Parshat Bechukotai.

Moreover – previously, in our Parsha, it states that the reward for the giving gifts to the Kohen (מתנות כהונה) is “He shall have much wealth”.

Therefore, Rashi explains, “your possessions shall be blessed”. In other words that in the  possessions that a person already possesses (“your possessions”), a special blessing should rest – that they should be blessed and increase more than their norm and nature. In other words, a blessing and effluence that is above the ways of nature.

This is similar to what we find regarding Yitzchak, that “in that year he reaped a hundred fold”. For even though the “the earth was hard and that the year was a hard one”, “for every one estimated, it produced one hundred” – a blessing above the ways of nature.

This is the innovation of Birkat Kohanim versus the blessings of Parshat Bechukotai. The main blessings of Parshat Bechukotai is in the aspect of a multitude of good in quantity (as it states “The (amount of) threshing will be so great”). Namely, that it is bestowed to Bnei Yisroel through the fulfillment of Torah and Mitzvot. Whereas this blessing is special – that the possessions that are already found in the domain of the person, are themselves blessed and increased, much more so, in a manner that above nature.

And although we already find a semblance of this blessing also in Parshat Bechukotai, as Rashi explains on the verse “You will eat your bread to satiation” – “eating a little, (but that small amount) will be blessed in (the eater's) innards”. This blessing does not reach the wondrousness of the blessing, “your possessions shall be blessed”:

This, that the food is blessed, in contrast with nature, in the person’s stomach (מעיו) who fulfills Torah and Mitzvot:

  1. Is not visible to all
  2. The effect of the blessing is in the body of that person who strives in Torah and keeps Mitzvot .

Whereas, in Birkat Kohanim:

  1. The blessing is visible to all
  2. Even the person’s possessions, which are external to the person who fulfills Torah and Mitzvot, are blessed and increase in a manner which is contrary to nature.

The reason that Rashi precisely states (“your possessions shall be blessed”) and not “your money” – is because “possessions” includes all sorts of wealth - that in all of them, this additional blessing rests.

4. Rashi explains the conclusion of the verse: “and watch over you” (Yishmarecha)

“That no bandits () shall attack you and steal your money. For when one gives his servant a gift, he cannot protect it from all other people, so if robbers () come and take it from him, what benefit has he (the servant) from this gift? As for the Holy One, blessed be He, however, He is the One who (both) gives and protects. There are many expository interpretations in the Sifri “


One could say that the reason that Rashi takes the explanation of “Yishmarecha” out of its simple meaning () – which is watching over the body of the person itself,

(Similar to G-d’s blessings to Yaakov,

“I will guard you (ושמרתיך) wherever you go”

(and like the simple meaning of “watch over you”, that it refers to the person himself)),

and explain it with regard to the aspect of  guarding the person’s money, is:

If one were to say that this is a blessing for protecting the body of the person, this blessing (Yishmarecha) should have preceded the blessing of “Yevarechecha”

(which is solely a blessings for the person‘s  possessions).

As it is plainly understood, firstly, a person must be whole and healthy, and only afterward is there a place to bless him with  possessions and money.

Therefore, Rashi explains that “Yishmarecha/watch over you”, here, is a continuation of “Yevarechecha”. In other words, the necessity of this “guarding” is due to the blessing of “Yevarechecha”:

After one’s possessions have been blessed (“your possessions shall be blessed”), and increased immeasurably, it is possible that it arouses the greed of the bandits, when seeing that he  possesses such wealth.

 Possessions, in general, are divided into two types:

  • Property (קרקעות), and
  • Movable items (מטלטלין).

Within movable items, the easiest to carry is money. Therefore, the blessing is that even this is protected, that one should not come and steal it from him. Therefore, there is an additional special blessing

"(May the L-rd bless you) and watch over you" (יברכך ה' וישמרך).

Namely, that G-d protects this gift from bandits.

This answers another precision is Rashi’s wording, where he explain that the blessings of protects here is just in that which,

“No bandits (שודדים) shall attack you and steal your money”

Seemingly, this is not understood:

Why does Rashi limit this blessing solely to protection from bandits (שודדים) and he does not write (concisely):

  • “watch over you” – your  possessions (like the wording of the Sifri) or
  • “That your  possessions should be protected”, and so forth.

an expression that denotes general protection from all types of loss, like from a fire, and so forth, and not just from bandits?

However, the theme of “Yishmarecha” comes in continuation of “Yevarechecha”. In other words,  protection from the harm of bandits, that is likely to come specifically due to the bountiful bestowal of “Yevarechecha”, as aforementioned. However, it is not speaking of plain  protection from loss (like from fire) that arises from different causes.

5. However, one must still examine the elaborate continuation of Rashi’s wording, where he differentiates between

  • “One who gives a gift to his servant” versus
  • G-d’s gift, where “He is the One who (both) gives and protects”.

For seemingly, it would have been sufficient to say,

“’Watch over you’ - that bandits do not come to take your money”.

From this, we would already know the context of this blessing.

One must also examine the preciseness the change in Rashi’s wording.

  • For regarding G-d’s blessing it says, “No bandits (שודדים) shall attack you and steal your money”
  • Whereas regarding “One who gives a gift to his servant” he states, “from all other people . . robbers (לסטים)”.

According to all the aforementioned, Rashi’s wording comes out simply:

Just as the blessing “Yevarechecha” is a special blessing that does not have a counterpart in all the other blessings that are delineated in the Torah. So too, it must be with regard to the blessing “Yishmarecha”, which is a special protection, that is just within the power of G-d.

Because of this, it is impossible for Rashi to explain that the intent of “Yishmarecha” is the plain protection of the person’s possessions. For such a protection, does not contain a unique innovation. Moreover, the plain protection of possessions is included in the essence of the blessing. As the Midrash Rabba states, “if they are blessed, they are protected” (“for a blessing without protection is nothing”)

This is Rashi’s intent in his elaborate words the difference between a person “who gives a gift to his servant”, versus G-d’s gift where, “He is the One who (both) gives and protects.”

This is the innovation in this blessing, that it is a special protection from G-d, that is not in the power of a person, as it states , “when one gives his servant a gift, (that) he cannot protect it from all other people,”

In other words, Rashi’s intent is not to say that solely G-d “is the One who (both) gives and protects”, whereas a person cannot protect at all

(For indeed, it is in the power of a person to protect his possessions from many types of damages).

Rather the precision in the wording is that G-d is able to protect “from all people”, whomever it may be, which is not in a person’s power to do so.

According to this, even the precise wording of Rashi that G-d’s protection is

“That bandits (שודדים) shall attack you and steal your money”

(and not “robbers (לסטים)”, like the wording after this)

is understood:

The expression “bandits” (שודדים) depicts a special type of robber, who “pillages” and “plunders” all the person’s possessions.

(Not like a plain robber, who normally just takes a part of the person’s possessions).

This is either because they are extremely powerful, or that they come in gangs etc.

This is why Rashi precisely states and emphasizes the difference between G-d’s protection versus the protection of a person “who gives a gift to his servant”.

For a person is not able to protect his gift even from “robbers (לסטים)” (and certainly not from “bandits/ שודדים).

Whereas G-d is able to protect His gift (not just from “robbers (לסטים)” but) even from “bandits (שודדים)” – which is not in the power of a person to protect himself from them, at all.

6. In this vein, also Rashi’s comment in the following verse,

“May the L-rd cause His countenance to shine to you” (יאר ה' פניו אליך)

Where he states,

“May He show you a joyous countenance, a radiant countenance” (יראה לך פנים שוחקות פנים צהובות)

 is resolved.

Seemingly, it is puzzling. Why does Rashi change from the wording of the verse (“His countenance to shine to you”) and write “a joyous countenance, a radiant countenance”?

Especially since even in the Midrash the wording is, “That He should look at you with a bright countenance (בפנים מאירות), and not a meager countenance”. Moreover, we find this wording in Rashi, previously, on the verse “you will see the glory of G-d”, where he writes, “you will see the glory of His bright countenance”.

One must also examine the repetition in Rashi of the words “a joyous countenance, a radiant countenance”. For since Rashi also repeats the word “countenance”, this proves that they are two aspects (and not two synonyms for the same aspect). Moreover, in addition to the question what these two aspects are, how, according to the simple meaning of the verse, does Rashi know that “shine” (יאר) includes two aspects?

However, according to the aforementioned, even this is resolved:

The plain blessing, a “bright countenance (בפנים מאירות)”, has already been included in the blessings in Parshat Bechukotai. For when Bnei Yisroel strive in Torah and keep its Mitzvot, certainly they merit all the blessings that are enumerated in the Parsha, from “a bright countenance”.

However, the innovation here is that that they are “a bright countenance” in a special manner:

“A joyous countenance, a radiant countenance”

In other words “a bright countenance” that comes as a result of the condition of “A joyous countenance” – a great happiness and a revealed happiness. It is understood that the shining of the face in a condition of happiness is in an extremely lofty manner.

This is why Rashi precisely states a “joyous countenance” (not just plainly, “a bright countenance”).

In other words, this is like an aforementioned Rashi that,

“The expression joyous/Tzohov refers to (anything) resembling the appearance of gold. “Tzohov” (is) like “zohov/gold”.

so too is it in our case. It is not just plain “brightness” but rather the appearance (and color) of gold - “Tzohov”.

7. The Mitzvah of Birkat Kohanim is in all places and in all times. Even in the time of Galut and in the diaspora, it is a Positive Commandment of Torah on the Kohanim to bless Bnei Yisroel.

From this, it is understood, that these blessings are not dependent upon the condition of Yisroel, but rather are drawn down into each one of Yisroel, whoever they are, in whatever condition.

This fits with what was previously explained regarding the context of these blessings. Namely, that they are special blessings that are not contained within other blessings that were promised to Yisroel due to their observing Torah and Mitzvot. For the blessings of Birkat Kohanim come and are drawn down from an extremely lofty place, where regarding it, the Avodah of created beings are insignificant.


  1. They are blessings completely above nature, and solely within G-d’s power to bestow blessings such as these.
  2. They are drawn down to each one of Yisroel, whoever they are, in all times and in all places.

So should it be for us – namely to see G-d’s blessings, below ten handbreadths () like the literal meaning of the verse,

"May the L-rd bless you and watch over you." (יברכך ה' וישמרך) (the first blessing)

that it specifically refers to physical aspects.

Then we will be able to “sit unburdened and (thus, have the opportunity to) study wisdom and engage in it” from peace of mind and a tranquil body. So much so that we attain the true tranquility - the day that will be entirely Shabbat and rest for everlasting life”.


Msichot Shabbat Parshat Naso 5737

Shabbat Parshat Naso and Shabbat Parshat Behaalotecha 5741

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