Torah for this Hour | June 13, 2024

This week we celebrate Shavuot and we read Parashat Naso, the weekly reading with the largest number of verses. Despite its considerable length, it teaches us what it means to be “short and to the point” and to practice humility. How so?

Parashat Naso includes that threefold benediction, the Priestly Blessing. Why does the blessing have a fixed formula? Why not allow the Kohanim to bless the people exercising some creativity, and at length? In my view, the Torah is teaching us the importance of a short and meaningful blessing that respects both the God and the assembled congregation. Rabbis in particular need to pay attention to the length of blessings—and of divrei Torah and sermons!

Additionally, according to Jewish law, the Kohanim take off their shoes when they go up to bless the congregation. That procedure emphasizes the modesty that must go along with the Priestly Blessing. Both the sanctity of the moment and the value of humility should be kept in mind.

With everything going on around us—war, efforts to free the hostages, demonstrations—we need to model wisdom and humility. That is the message of Torah in this moment.