Every Jew has the power to bestow blessing. If you see a friend in need of a blessing, bestow blessing and don’t hide behind the illusion that you are too ordinary. Don’t be too humble and don’t be too stingy. Bestow blessing and let G-d worry about how to deliver it. Remember that when G-d observes His children blessing each other, He rejoices and wants to deliver.
In addition to every Jew’s power to bestow blessing, G-d endowed an entire segment of the Jewish people with an increased ability to bestow blessing. I refer to kohanim. Every kohen is charged with a special mandate to bestow blessing. In fact, if I bestow blessing, it is a nice thing, when a kohen bestows blessing, he performs a Mitzvah—he makes a unique connection with G-d.
And let no kohen believe that he is too ordinary to bestow blessing. Remember that this power is not self-generated. It is endowed by G-d. All the kohen needs to do is consciously render himself a channel of Divine blessing. Once he is cognizant of channeling the Divine power of blessing, he may, should, and is obligated, to open his mouth and let the blessings flow. To withhold is criminal. You have a gift that costs you nothing and gives others everything, why hold back? In fact, to withhold is a sin. If the kohen has a Mitzvah to bestow blessing, withholding it is the opposite of a Mitzvah.
Every time the kohen bestows blessing, G-d activates it immediately and it flows unimpeded to the recipient. It matters not whether he bestows blessing in the park, the street, or at the office. In the synagogue, at home, or at a backyard barbecue. A kohen’s blessing is a treasure. And once you realize the treasure you have, the power you were given, you will share it, share it, and share it some more.
Why did G-d endow you with this power? Well not because you did something unique to deserve it. It is because G-d wants His children to receive blessing. If we are to receive blessing, we need someone to bestow blessing. Someone who cares enough to take time out of his busy schedule and offer it. Someone who empathizes with our needs and wants to help. Knowing that he has the power to help, the kohen derives great joy from bestowing blessing.
The kohen bestows blessing with love, excitement, and above all, humility. He knows it is a sacred gift and a solemn duty, and he is thrilled to have been chosen.
What Makes The Kohen’s Blessing Unique?
We established that the kohen has a special power and that he is duty-bound to use it liberally and generously. We must now determine precisely what this power is. After all, the ordinary Jew also has the power to bestow blessing, so what exactly is the difference? If G-d honors the ordinary Jew’s blessing, how is it different from a kohen’s blessing?
We can’t say that the ordinary Jew’s blessing only works under certain conditions or only on occasion because G-d is nothing if not consistent. He is unchanging and immutable. If something is true for Him one time, it is true for Him every time. If it is true for Him under certain circumstances, it is true for Him under all circumstances. So how exactly is the kohen’s blessing different?
Rosh Hashanah and Every Day
To answer this we will briefly turn our attention to another question. Isn’t it the Jewish way to answer a question with a question?
We all know that Rosh Hashanah is a day of judgement. On this day G-d determines everything that will happen to us in the coming year. This is why we repent on this day and pray so intensely. But this raises a question. If everything was decided on Rosh Hashanah, why do we pray every day? Isn’t it a waste of time to ask for something? If it was decreed that we should have it, we don’t need to pray. If it was decreed that we shouldn’t, our prayers won’t help.
The answer offered by the Chasidic Masters is that G-d decides on Rosh Hashanah precisely how much blessing we will receive. But He decides every day precisely how to allocate that blessing.
Suppose I need health, children, and money. On Rosh Hashanah G-d decrees the measure of blessing that I will receive this year, but He does not decide whether it will be used to provide one or two of my needs or if it will be evenly distributed. Sometimes I require more of one than of the other. This can be because I want one than the other or because my needs are greater in one area than the other. The decision on how to allocate my blessings is not made on Rosh Hashanah.
It is also possible that G-d will offer me plenty of health, but it will be of the spiritual variety. My love of G-d will be healthy. My observance of mitzvot will be healthy. My restraint in the face of greed, lust, or obsession will be healthy, but my body might remain ill. Or how about this? What if I require healing from addiction, from a heart ailment, and from high blood pressure? Suppose G-d grants me healing, He still needs to decide how much of this blessing will be allocated to each need.
This is where daily prayer comes in. Everyday G-d decides precisely how to mete out the quotient of blessings allocated to me on Rosh Hashanah. How much will I receive today? Which of my needs will be provided for today? In what guise will these needs be provided for? None of these decisions are made on Rosh Hashanah. They are made daily, which is why we pray three times every day.
The Kohen’s Blessing
Now that we understand the interplay between the two forms of judgements made before any blessing is allocated, we can return to the distinction between the kohen’s blessing and that of the ordinary person.
The ordinary person’s blessing is heeded and respected by G-d. G-d will grant the blessings that we bestow. But He reserves the right to determine precisely how to use them, where to allocate them, and in what guise to bestow them. If I bestow blessing for wealth G-d will provide it, but He might give it to you in the guise of nachas from your children and leave you impoverished in terms of money. Now we can all use extra nachas, but suppose that you are, thank G-d, not lacking in that area—your children are wonderful blessings to you, but you are poor as a church mouse, and you need money. That, I cannot guarantee. I can guarantee you something along the lines of my blessing, but I can’t be more precise than that.
By contrast, the kohen can deliver the precise blessing that he bestows. For reasons known only to G-d, he endowed the kohen with the unique and delightful ability to tailor his blessings precisely to our needs. If the kohen bestows blessing for wealth, wealth you will receive. If he orders up some happiness, you will be happy. G-d will deliver precisely what the kohen orders and nothing will be lost in translation.
In addition, the kohen’s blessing comes swiftly. If I order up a blessing, it will arrive, but whenever G-d wants it too—determined by how swiftly you deserve it. The kohen’s blessing is like Amazon—guaranteed delivery. But not in a day or two. The effects are immediate. Any obstacles that might stand in the way, are washed away like a bridge over a roiling river. The kohen’s blessings are like a perfect storm. Nothing stands in their way.
So, if you are a kohen, don’t hold back. Bestow blessing, bestow blessing, and bestow blessing again.