Kahal Joseph Congregation

310.474.0559 / webmaster@kahaljoseph.org
10505 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025

Rabbi’s Message

Rabbi Natan Halevy

Naso  5783, BSD
written with Dafna Young

Shalom U’vracha,

In this week’s Parasha we hear the blessing of the Kohanim. This is one of the fundamental blessings of our nation:

May Hashem bless you and watch over you

May Hashem illuminate His countenance for you and be gracious to you

May Hashem turn His countenance towards you and give you peace.

Hashem’s blessing occurs in stages. First, we experience security. Then, we are granted understanding. Finally, we may experience peace–a true, genuine peace informed by Hashem’s presence in our lives.

The blessing concludes: They shall set My name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them. The final statement is a bit puzzling. Who gives the blessing—Hashem, the Kohanim, or both together? The passage concludes, “I will bless them.”

Hashem is the ultimate source of all blessing. While the Kohanim may recite the words and act as a conduit for His blessing, they are not its source. The Torah teaches us the dual nature of this world and how humans can affect reality with their intentions, their choices, words, and actions. Much like the Kohanim, when we act in harmony with Hashem, when we honor his laws and fulfill his mitzvoth, we learn the lessons He sets before us and use our hard-earned wisdom to nurture the world. We bless His name through what we do.

In the Torah, one of the ways Hashem is described to us is this: He does what He says He will do. He keeps His word. There is a clear through-line between Hashem’s promises and His deeds, His utterances and His actions, if you will.

We experience Hashem’s consistent follow-through, His infinite dependability, when we witness nature’s exquisite design—both in an instant and over eons.  There, Hashem’s life-nourishing essence manifests in His creation. As the Shema tells us, Hashem is truth.

When we follow Hashem’s path, we act as we should. We do what we say we will do. We act to enhance the positive forces in the world. Then, His name is set upon us and associated with us. For, He has already blessed us with the knowledge of how to conduct ourselves in the world, how to create a safe, secure community in which peace, trust, and positive, honest relationships may flourish.

In such a society, the Kohanim will then bless Israel with love and desire and a good heart. The Kohanim bless Israel, and Hashem blesses them when they are privileged to live in and lead such a healthy community.

Shabbat Shalom U’mevorah

Kahal Joseph Congregation

10505 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025
310.474.0559 / webmaster@kahaljoseph.org