Kenneth Cohen

Respecting the Kohein

The Ketav Sofer makes an interesting comment regarding the treatment of the Kohanim. He addresses the word, וקדשתו, which means that we are to give special honor to the Kohein.

His point says a great deal about human nature. He writes that despite the fact that the Kohein depends on the gifts of the public, we must still treat him with reverence. There is a tendency to belittle someone that we support, or earns a lot less money than us.

Years ago, I taught in a day school in Beverly Hills, California. One charming student politely said to one of the teachers, “Why should I listen to you? My father earns ten times as much as you do!”

It is so wrong to judge a person or show him respect based on his income.
The treatment of the Kohein drove home this message. He was certainly worthy of respect. He was a devoted public servant who dedicated his life to raising the level of spirituality among the Jewish people.

He did not to choose to be a Kohein and to be dependent on the good will and generosity of others. This was his destiny, and he was deserving of being honored and sanctified.

We must respect every human being, and treat everyone in a dignified manner. The positive commandment of וקדשתו, teaches us this important lesson.

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
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