Torah for This Hour | July 4, 2024

Numbers Chapter 18 is the main Torah source of the concept of gifts to the Priesthood as understood by the Rabbis. Midrashim offer different explanations: Yalkut Shimoni understands that the Priests received them as reward for Aaron’s efforts to save the Israelites from the sin of the golden calf. Pirkei deRabbi Eliezer understands the gifts to be a reward for the service performed by the priests on behalf of the Jewish People in offering the sacrifices.

There is one additional source very significant source: The Sifra comments [on Leviticus 9:22 …and Aaron lifted his hands towards the people and blessed them] “At that time Aaron was awarded the gifts to the Priesthood and reciting the Priestly Blessing. Gifts for himself and for all the generations of priests to come until the ultimate Resurrection of the Dead.”

Aaron’s blessing was offered spontaneously, an expression of his joy and excitement at his installation as High Priest. In the ecstasy of that emotion his love for the Jewish people is so great that a blessing comes forth from his lips; God approves and sends a holy fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice.

Thus Aaron blesses the people and as a direct result of his action, Aaron is blessed by God. And all present, Aaron, his sons and the Jewish people – merit the bounty of God’s love.

What does this mean for us? That we should not hesitate to share our words of blessings with those around us. The very act of blessing a person releases a bounty of goodness from God and thus both the “blesser” and the “blessee” are blessed by God.