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    The moment of truth – Naso

    birkat kohanim priestly blessing cohen cohanThe priestly blessing, which originates in this week’s Torah portion, is invoked on the congregation by kohanim who have covered their heads with their tallit.

    The congregation can hear their voices but not see their faces. Maybe this is because it is God who bestows the blessing, not the kohanim themselves, who are merely the Almighty’s agents.

    Another possibility is that this is a real moment of truth for the kohen. Yes, he is acting on behalf of God, but that gives him both fear and joy.

    The fear? With his whole head covered he stands in awesome loneliness with God, bereft of a human support system, wondering whether he is really worthy of his task.

    The joy? He is also indescribably ecstatic that there is such Divine love for him, that God places such trust in him, that he has such a privilege.

    All of us, in a metaphorical fashion, knowing that we are mamlechet kohanim – a “kingdom of priests” – echo at this moment the words of the Siddur, Ashrenu mah tov chelkenu, “How happy we are, how goodly is our portion, how beautiful is our heritage!”

    We are deputed to do God’s work in the world.

    May we deserve the privilege and use it wisely.

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