Rabbi Reisman – Parshas Naso 5782
1 - Topic – A Pshat in (וְשָׂמוּ אֶת-שְׁמִי, עַל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וַאֲנִי, אֲבָרְכֵם).
As we prepare for the Shabbos Nach Shavuos, Parshas Naso which Chassidim consider to be the Shabbos Nach Shavuos which is a week in which we hopefully take an appreciation of the Shavuos that just passed. Chassidim say that the Shabbos Nach Shavuos is like the Lechem Hapanim which is taken out at the end of the week of the Mishmar of Kohanim.
Kohanim come and start their Mishmar on Shabbos with the Lechem Hapanim and then the following week the Lechem Hapanim from a week ago was taken out and it was shown to everybody. They showed the whole Tzibbur that the bread is as fresh as when it went in. The message was to the Kohanim when they came to the Mishmar, they came all excited. So the week later, they shouldn’t forget the original freshness, the original excitement.
The same thing, the Shabbos Nach Shavuos we should remember the excitement with which we came to Mattan Torah and when the seven Yemai Tashlumin of Shavuos comes to an end we should remind ourselves of that freshness of Kabbalas Hatorah. Certainly Parshas Naso is a wonderful Parsha to learn about the freshness of Kabbalas Hatorah, meaning as follows. In Parshas Naso there are many Parshios that are extremely significant. Probably Birchas Kohanim is one of them. I would like to talk to you briefly about Nesi’as Kapaim, about Birchas Kohanim. Even though you may not be a Kohen, like I am not a Kohen, but let’s see what we could take from the Parsha.
It says after Birchas Kohanim in 6:27 ( וְשָׂמוּ אֶת-שְׁמִי, עַל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וַאֲנִי, אֲבָרְכֵם). What is (וְשָׂמוּ) place my name on the Jewish people. (וְשָׂמוּ) is not a language of Sam Al Kesaifav, of putting something on someone’s shoulder, physically putting. It is a language of (וְשמְתֶּם אֶת דְּבָרַי אֵלֶּה עַל לְבַבְכֶם). It is a language of Si’ma B’leiv, of paying attention. So that (וְשָׂמוּ אֶת-שְׁמִי, עַל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וַאֲנִי, אֲבָרְכֵם) is the language of Nesinas Leiv, a language of Havana. (וְשָׂמוּ אֶת-שְׁמִי, עַל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וַאֲנִי, אֲבָרְכֵם). Place my name on the Jewish people so that Klal Yisrael by Birchas Kohanim should pay attention to the fact that HKB”H’s name and his Beracha is resting upon them. This is the Pshat in the Posuk and the explanation on Pshat as is found in some of the Meforshim.
This may be a Mekor for the Halacha in Shulchan Aruch in Siman Kuf Chaf Ches where it says that when the Kohanim are Bentching Klal Yisrael, when they are giving a Beracha to the Jewish people, that those in the audience (which is us) should be Mechavein K’negged HaKohanim. We should be thinking of what the Kohanim are saying, paying attention to the Kohanim. What is the source for that? If someone is giving you a Beracha you have to be paying attention with Kavana? (וְשָׂמוּ אֶת-שְׁמִי, עַל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וַאֲנִי, אֲבָרְכֵם). After the Kohanim Bentch you you should know to the degree that Klal Yisrael has a Si’mas Haleiv, pays attention to it, (וַאֲנִי, אֲבָרְכֵם) I will give them the Beracha. It is a general rule, the more a person recognizes something Ruchnios, the more real it is to him and the more meaningful. So this is a Pshat in (וְשָׂמוּ אֶת-שְׁמִי, עַל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וַאֲנִי, אֲבָרְכֵם).
2 – Topic – Birchas Kohanim
Let’s move on to a second topic regarding Duchaning and what I think you will find is a Chiddush. When the Kohanim offer their three Berachos (יְבָרֶכְךָ יְרוָר, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ) the Tzibbur says Amen. The same thing (יָאֵר יְרוָר פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶּךָּ) the Tzibbur says Amen and the third Beracha (יִשָּׂא יְרוָר פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם) the Tzibbur says Amen.
What is probably not well-known is the Chashivus, the significance of that Amen in Halacha. Rav Moshe writes that that Amen is more Chashuv then (אָמֵן יְהֵא שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא מְבָרַךְ). Where does Rav Moshe get this from? Let me give you the background which is a Teshuva in the Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim, Cheilek Daled, Teshuva Chaf Aleph, Os Beis (on page Lamed Beis).
Let’s go back to the background of Amen on Nesias Kapaim. The Mishna says in Berachos 34a (seven lines from the top) (העובר לפני התיבה לא יענה אמן אחר הכהנים מפני הטרוף). If you are Davening for the Amud and the Kohanim are saying (יְבָרֶכְךָ יְרוָר, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ) and you are the Baal Tefila (you are leading them), do not say Amen. Why? (מפני הטרוף) because you are going to get confused, you are not going to remember where you are up to.
Tosafos says that it seems from here that were it not for the calculation of (טרוף), if not for the consideration of (טרוף), that you would answer Amen although the Baal Tefila is in middle of Shemoneh Esrei. Why is he answering Amen to (יְבָרֶכְךָ יְרוָר, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ)? So it seems Zagt Tosafos that were it not for the consideration of the fact that he would get confused, he would answer because it is (שצורך תפלה). Because it is a need of the Tefila. What does it mean (שצורך תפלה), I am not sure. But Tosafos says (שצורך תפלה). You would answer Amen in middle of Shemoneh Esrei. Imagine.
The Taz in Siman Kuf Chaf Ches, Taz S’if Kotton Yud Daled has a Chiddush Atzum based on Tosafos. The Taz based on Tosafos says two things. He says that we know that in middle of Shemoneh Esrei you would never answer Kaddish or Kedusha. You don’t interrupt in middle of Shemoneh Esrei for anything. Therefore, if you can interrupt in middle Shemoneh Esrei to answer Amen we must come to the conclusion that the Amen is part of the Beracha. Just like the Chazzan says (יְבָרֶכְךָ יְרוָר, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ), he can say Amen. This is because Amen is a Cheilek Haberacha. That is the first thing he says. The second thing is that this Amen needs Kavana T’fei, a lot of Kavana. Why were Chazal afraid if you will say Amen you will get confused? It is not so confusing to answer Amen? Says the Taz, because you are not supposed to just say the word Amen. You are supposed to be thinking about what you are saying Amen to. The (יְבָרֶכְךָ יְרוָר, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ) to the blessing that the Kohen gives you. Once you are concentrating on your needs, on the Ribbono Shel Olam’s Beracha, then there is a fear of (טרוף) (confusion).
The Nafka Mina is that even Biz’man Hazeh that we have Siddurim, and we wouldn’t be afraid that by answering Amen we will get confused, still the Chazan doesn’t answer Amen. This is because since the Amen is supposed to be with Kavana T’fei, therefore, there is a Chashash that you will get confused. Zagt the Taz these two Nekudos. That Amen is part of the Beracha and that the Amen needs Kavana T’fei. The Taz makes a big deal out of this Amen.
Rav Moshe in the Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim, Cheilek Daled, Teshuva Chaf Aleph in turn makes a big deal out of the Taz. He says that it seems from this Taz that this Amen is so significant that even in the middle of Birchas Krias Shema, if somebody came late to Shul G-d forbid and he is in middle of saying the Beracha of (יוצֵר הַמְּאורות) or (אַהֲבָה רַבָּה), during such a Beracha we don’t interrupt just to say Amen. So Rav Moshe says if the Amen is that significant then even in middle of Birchas Krias Shema you would answer Amen to that. There is a Raya Nifla’a that Rav Moshe brings to the Taz.
Rav Moshe brings the following Raya. It says (דהא בביהכ"ג שכולה כהנים, ויש שם יותר מעשרה, עולים לדוכן רק היתרים מעשרה, ועשרה נשארו לענות אמן) that a Beis Hakneses that is full of Kohanim and there are more than 10 for the Minyan. The 10 will go up to Duchan and everyone else will answer Amen.
Freigt Rav Moshe, everyone else answers Amen? How can they not go up as it is a Mitzvas Asei for them to go up and be part of the Mivarchim? How can they be Mevateil a Mitzvas Asei? Zagt Rav Moshe, Al Korchach you have to say that Amen is part of the Beracha. That when they say the Amen as part of the Beracha it is part of the Beracha. A Chiddush Nifla.
What is the Poel Yotzei of all this? That the Amen of Birchas Kohanim is significant. It is significant both in the Chashivus of the Guf of the Amen and in the Kavana that is required for those that are answering the Amen as well. That it is a Cheilek Haberacha. This we see from Tosafos, from the Taz and from Rav Moshe’s Teshuva.
Perhaps with this we can understand the Biur Halacha in the beginning of Siman Kuf Chaf Ches which he brings in the name of the Sefer Hachareidim that there is a Mitzvas Asei on the Yisraeilim and of course the Leviim as well who are receiving the Beracha. Part of Birchas Kohanim is a Mitzvah on those receiving the Beracha and he says that those in audience when the Kohanim are Bentching that the Yisraeilim and Leviim should have in mind to be Yotzei with the Beracha of the Kohanim. They say (אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בִּקְדֻשָּׁתוֹ שֶׁל אַהֲרֹן וְצִוָּֽנוּ לְבָרֵךְ אֶת עַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּאַהֲבָה) and we in the audience should have in mind to be Yotzei. What are we doing to be Yotzei? Poshut Pshat is we are being Nisbarach, we are receiving the Beracha. However, according to this, our Amen is also a Cheilek in the Beracha and that may be the Kavana of the Chareidim.
So Halacha L’mayseh, what have we learned? We learned to be Mechavein Neged the Kohanim, to think about the Beracha that we are receiving, and that in the Amen we should be Mechavein and we should understand the Chashivus, the significance of that Amen at the time of Birchas Kohanim.
In a previous year (Ed. Note: Shabbos Chol Hamoed Sukkos 5773) I have already explained in the name of Rav Schwab (from his Sefer on the Siddur) the three Berachos (יְבָרֶכְךָ יְרוָר, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ) which is for Gashmius, (יָאֵר יְרוָר פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶּךָּ) which is for Ruchnios and (יִשָּׂא יְרוָר פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם) which is for Menuchas Hanefesh and Menuchas Hachaim and be Mechavein. Well most of us Ashkenazim will not have Birchas Kohanim again until Rosh Hashana comes around and it would be K’dai to go once in a while to a Minyan of Sefardim and be the recipients of Birchas Kohanim.
When Rav Shteinman came to America and Rav Scheinberg came often, they were Makpid to Daven with Sefardim so that there would be Birchas Kohanim that they hear. It would be appropriate that every once in a while to go to a Minyan of Sefardim just to be able to receive the Duchaning and the Birchas Kohanim. If you are a Kohen Al Achas Kama V’kama, it would be K’dai.
And so, with that thought from Parshas Naso we hope that HKB”H will give us a Beracha that the coming days should be days of Gezunt, Parnasa the first Beracha, of growth of Torah, (יָאֵר יְרוָר) to see the Ohr Hatorah and most important we should have Menuchas Hanefesh with a Simchas Hachaim in Hashem’s service and a Gut Gezunta Zummer to one and all!