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One of the most beautiful and haunting passages in the Torah is the priestly blessing: “May the L-rd bless you and keep you. May G-d shine His countenance upon you and favor you. May G-d raise His face to you and grant you peace.” The wording of the blessing is singular—G-d turns to every Jew as an individual. Yet the command to the kohanim is in plural: “So shall you bless the Jewish people, say to them.” Indeed, the kohanim bless all the Jewish people together, as a community.

In order to resolve this conflict, Rashi explains: “Say to them—that all of them should be listening.” The blessing is indeed given to each of us as an individual, but we receive it together, at the same time.

Rashi also explains that the word “amor” in Hebrew means to say again and again, just as the word “zachor” and “shamor” (remember and keep) are said regarding the Shabbat, which means it must be remembered and kept continuously.

Why does Rashi choose these examples? Because they allude to another concept in the Priestly Blessing. Just as remembering and keeping Shabbat are complementary commandments—we remember the holiness of Shabbat and keep various restrictions to prevent us from forgetting that distinction—the priestly blessing also has complementary blessings. For example, G-d will bless you with wealth, and protect you from losing that wealth.

On the one hand, the priestly blessing is a personal one to each individual. Yet while receiving the blessing each person also feels part of the general Jewish community. True peace is achieved when we find a balance between the needs of the individual and the community, and indeed, the blessing concludes, “He will grant you peace.” The ultimate peace, with the true and complete Redemption.

(Likutei Sichot vol. 18, p. 76)


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