Kenneth Cohen

Peace and love

There is a special commandment given to the Kohanim to bless the Jewish people every day. If we include the Mussaf service, this blessing of the Kohanim takes place approximately 450 times a year.

There are two key words that are part of this blessing. The first is that the Kohein must give his blessing, באהבה, with love. Therefore, if he is despised by his congregation, or they despise him, he is not permitted to give the Priestly blessing.

The Kohein, in particular, must work hard at learning to love every Jew. This is necessary so that he does not make a blessing in vain.

The second key word is Shalom, peace. This is the last word of the blessing. The Kohein blesses the Jewish people that they will experience peace. Ideally, this peace should apply nationally, to the entire Jewish nation. But it should also apply to each person individually. The blessing is meant to grant everyone inner peace. The Keli Yakar wrote, אם אין שלום אין כלום, “If there is no peace, there is nothing.”

So the next time we are present to be blessed by the Kohanim, we should focus on these two words of “love” and “peace.” It is not an exaggeration to say that you can’t have one without the other!

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at