Guarding Our Berachot by Yehuda Feman


In Parashat Naso, Hashem gives His most special Berachah to Bnei Yisrael, to be recited daily by Aharon and the Kohanim. The first portion of the Berachah reads, “Yevarechecha Hashem VeYishmerecha,” “May God bless you and guard you” (BeMidbar 6:24). Rashi (ad loc. s.v. Yevarechecha) expands on the meaning of this Berachah, explaining that “Yevarechecha” means that our possessions will be blessed. He further explains (ad loc. VeYishmerecha) that “VeYishmerecha” blesses us that robbers should not attack us and steal our possessions. Rashi provides an analogy to emphasize the greatness of Hashem: a master who gives a gift to his servant is unable to prevent robbers from stealing the gift. However, regarding Bnei Yisrael, God is both the giver and the guard, and can thus prevent any robbers from stealing our possessions. Rashi’s explanation of these two words poses several difficulties. Firstly, why does Rashi limit this blessing specifically to material possessions? Secondly, where does Rashi learn that VeYishmerecha is a blessing which is intended to guard robbers from stealing our money, rather than a blessing intended to guard our lives? Lastly, what is the purpose of the analogy Rashi offers?

There is a simple explanation as to why Rashi understands this Berachah in such a specific case: earlier, in Parashat BeChukotai, and later, in Parashat Ki Tavo, Hashem promises Bnei Yisrael every imaginable blessing. Rashi was attempting to explain what blessing Hashem could have been adding here. Therefore, Rashi concludes that the blessing in this Parashah was given in order to reassure the Jewish People that the blessings they received earlier will flourish and grow. The Berachot in BeChukotai promise a person that he will receive many possessions. Here, Hashem promises a person that not only will he have ample possessions, but his possessions will also be blessed and grow. We can now understand Rashi’s second point. How can he say that guarding possessions is a more valuable blessing than the more simple interpretation of the Pasuk of guarding one’s life? Rashi must understand that the Torah is continuing the same blessing from the beginning of the Pasuk regarding a person’s possessions. Rashi then concludes with an analogy to show Hashem’s superior Shemirah, guarding. Unlike a regular gift from master to servant, which man can only guard to the best of his abilities, God will protect His gifts to Bnei Yisrael in a supernatural manner. The implication of this Berachah is extremely comforting: if Hashem guards the possessions of Bnei Yisrael in such a manner, all the more so will He guard Bnei Yisrael and protect them from harm.

Entitled to Titles by Gavriel Epstein

The Paradoxical Juxtaposition by Binyamin Jachter