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RABBI CHAIM LOBEL הרב חיים לובל

This week is Parshat Naso
Candle Lighting 8:03 PM 6/4/11 NYC DST
Rabbi Chaim Lobel - Young Israel of Aberdeen, NJ
www.yiaberdeen.com



 

Priestly Blessings - In Memoriam of Mr. David M. Warren (Menachem Dovid ben Harav Yosef Z'L)
The third of the priestly blessings by which the Kohanim bless the Jewish people states, “May G-d lift his countenance to you and bestow peace upon you.” (Numbers 6:26) Most commentaries understand this blessing to mean that, should G-d have justification for anger, He should overlook that anger. (See Rashi; 1040 - 1105)

The Midrash Rabba (Bamidbar 11:7; compilation of Jewish Homiletic 400 CE - 600 CE) raises a question. Isn’t the blessing in direct conflict with the verse, “Because your G-d … that does not lift countenance and does not take bribery”? Either G-d does or does not lift his countenance. In other words, either G-d does or does not always act with justice.

To reconcile the seeming contradiction, the Midrash presents the following scenario. An impoverished individual struggles to find enough food for his family so that they may fulfill the verse, “You shall eat, be satiated, and grace Hashem your G-d.” There is no requirement to arbitrarily eat a certain amount of bread, yet this person does so in order to acquire the obligation of saying grace.

How does the Midrash resolve the conflict? The Kli Yakar (Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim Luntschitz 1550 -1619; Prague)  offers the following explanation. In truth, the verses from the Torah and the Midrash are looking at two completely distinct situations even though, from an objective standpoint, they look identical.

Why does the poor man struggle to create a situation whereby he will become required to fulfill a Torah obligation? There are two possibilities. If he’s creating an obligation because he wishes to acquire the reward for fulfilling a Torah obligation, then to him applies the verse, “Because your G-d … that does not lift countenance and does not take bribery.” Why? Because G-d acts Midah K’neged Midah, measure for measure. Just as this person seeks reward for every mitzvah he fulfills, so shall he receive punishment for each transgression.

However, if the poor man has a heartfelt desire to just do the will of G-d and therefore seeks to gather enough food for the opportunity to say grace, to him applies the verse, “May G-d lift his countenance to you and bestow peace upon you.” Why? Measure for measure. Just as he seeks to serve Hashem, so will Hashem assist him.

Herein lies the secret to each person’ unique relationship with G-d. How G-d approaches you is dependent upon how you approach Him. Even the application of G-d’s justice is based upon His relationship to you.

We have a choice. For those who choose to serve G-d from a desire to fulfill his will, “May G-d lift his countenance to you and bestow peace upon you.” Amen
Shabbat Shalom


 
   
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