This week’s parsha presents to us the mitzvah of Birkas Kohanim. While we understand that the Kohanim are empowered by HaKadosh Baruch Hu to give us this blessing, we might wonder what is the nature of the Kohen’s role. Is it part of the priestly service (just as they serve in the Beis Hamikdash, so too they serve as the conduit for us to receive a blessing from Hashem); or perhaps the Kohanim acquired this ability to give us a brocho, as their actions in the Beis Hamikdash energized them?
In today’s Jewish world, it is common to travel to a Gadol or a learned man to ask for a brocho. That man is not a Kohen and yet we go to him to be blessed. So it seems that it is not vital to be a Kohen to give a blessing. What is the criteria necessary to give a brocho?
The pasuk states: Lift up your hands in holiness, and bless Hashem.
שְׂאוּ יְדֵכֶם קֹדֶשׁ; וּבָרְכוּ, אֶת ה׳ (תהילים קלד:ב)
(See Ibn Ezra, who says that this passuk refers to Birkas Kohanim.)
The Sefas Emes explains that a person who acts in a way that is holy becomes a vehicle for a source of brocho. We therefore understand that the Kohen—who is involved in holy activities in the Beis Hamikdash—has a bolstered ability to give a brocho. But the Kohanim don’t have a monopoly on this. Every person that adds Kedusha into his life is empowered—to a certain extent—to bless others.
There is a custom to kiss the hand of a Rav on Friday night. The Kaf HaChaim (רס”ב – י”ז) explains the reason for this is that the hand that writes Torah becomes holy and a relationship with it will bring Kedusha into those who connect to the hands that wrote Torah.
Just a few days ago we stood at Har Sinai and we were elevated to the point that our blessings became more powerful than they were before this holiday. Let us try to hold on to this “midas touch” by keeping the Kedusha evident in all of our actions, thus empowering us not only to serve Hashem better, but to also add a ‘touch’ of Kedusha to those around us..