Sedra Shorts

Ideas and commentaries on the weekly Torah readings.

My Photo
Location: Bet Shemesh, Israel

I taught Tanach in Immanuel College, London and in Hartman, Jerusalem. I was also an ATID fellow for 2 years. At present, I work for the Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora, in Bar-Ilan University, Israel. The purpose of this blog is to provide "sedra-shorts", short interesting ideas on the weekly Torah reading. Please feel free to use them and to send me your comments.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Parshat Naso

The Priestly Blessing

This week's parhsa contains a lengthy description of the consecration of the Mishkan. The focus of the consecration is the tribal leaders who each bring an identical series of korbanot over 12 days.

Immediately preceding this description are the priestly blessings:

'The Lord spoke to Moses saying: Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying: This is how you shall bless the children of Israel, saying to them: "May the Lord bless you and watch over you. May the Lord cause His countenance to shine to you and favor you. May the Lord raise His countenance toward you and grant you peace." They shall bestow My Name upon the children of Israel, so that I will bless them' (Bemidbar 6:22-27).

This blessing itself is also preceded by the Nazirite laws.

What are the Priestly blessings doing sandwiched in between these sections when it seems to be totally out of place?

The most obvious answer is that the Priestly blessings are directly linked to the Mishkan's consecration. How?

We should recall that the book of VaYikra (Leviticus) contains a different account of the Mishkan's consecration. There the focus is the Aharon and his sacrifices.

Towards the very end of the consecration "Aharon lifted up his hands towards the people and blessed them" (VaYikra 9:22).

Many commentators logically tie this blessing to the Priestly blessing in our parsha, i.e. some time before the Mishkan's consecration, God told Aharon that he had the power to bless Israel and He also informed him of the text. Therefore, the Priestly blessing is thematically linked to the Mishkan's consecration and so it appears just before the account of the consecration, in this week's parsha.

We could ask then why the blessing is not recorded in VaYikra, immediately preceding its account of the consecration.

The answer is that the blessing is also thematically linked to that of the Nazir.

The Nazir is a type of priest as "he is holy to the Lord" (Bemidbar 6:8). He may also not come in contact with the dead, nor may he consume alcohol, just as Kohen may not when he is performing the Temple service.

With the kohanim playing no part in the Bemidbar description of the Temple service and with the Nazir taking on a priestly role, one might have thought that kohanim were being usurped.

Therefore, the Torah teaches that nothing could be further from the truth. Sandwiched in between these episodes is the priestly blessing, informing us that only the kohanim can bless Israel and that only they could bestow the Lord's countenance on His people.

Last years' Sedra Short on Parshat Naso, entitled: "The Nazir's Hair" appears at

Another Sedra Short on Parshat Naso entitled: "The Mishkan’s Opening Day – Again! !appears at

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home