The Ultimate Beracha in the Ultimate Language by Oren Levy


Of the thousands of interpretations that have been given for the blessing of the Kohanim, the Abarbanel presents a unique explanation.  He says that each of the three sections of the blessing of the Kohanim is aimed at a particular segment of the nation.  The first section, “May Hashem bless you and protect you” (Bemidbar Sinai 6:24), is directed towards the workers, with the hope that the work of their hands will be blessed.  The second part, “Hashem shine His face towards you and enhance you” (ibid. v. 25), has the scholars and thinkers in mind.  It is a prayer that light may be sent from Heaven to help them understand as much as the human mind can encompass.  The warriors are blessed with peace, “Hashem shall turn His face towards you and give you peace” (ibid. v. 26).

Chazal (Sotah 7:2) say that the blessing of the Kohanim should be recited in the Holy Tongue (Hebrew) only.  This is derived from the phrase Ko Tevarchu, “Thus shall you bless” (ibid. v. 23).  The word “Thus” is interpreted to mean that the blessing may be recited using only the words and language presented in the following verses.

The Ketav Sofer expands on this interpretation of Chazal: were the blessings offered in a language other than the original Hebrew, the blessing would be very limited.  Hebrew is rich in idiom and connotations and each word contains a host of blessing in all areas of life.

The Chatam Sofer utilized this Chazal in his battle against the Reformists who introduced sermons in the vernacular.  The Kohen to him represents the teacher and leader of the people.  When the leader discourses, the Holy One forgives Israel of their sins and the gates of blessing and favor open, just as they do during the blessing of the Kohanim.  But this happens only if, like the Kohanim, he speaks in the Holy tongue and not in a foreign language.  The language itself instills the word of Hashem into the people.  We see the importance of studying Torah using the Hebrew language from here.

The Chatam Sofer interprets another Drasha of Chazal in a like manner.  Chazal say that a teacher is like an angel of Hashem, and one should seek to learn Torah from him.  Elsewhere they make the comment that the angels do not speak Aramaic, only Hebrew.  If the leader, says Chatam Sofer, is like the angels- if he knows Hebrew only and not foreign languages, then you should learn from him.  If this is not so, his words will not be influential.  It is the essence and holiness of the Hebrew words themselves which influence the masses of Israel and bring them close to holiness, opening up for them an outpouring of blessings.

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