Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Naso
To dedicate this lesson



Various Rabbis

Sivan 5768
Within the three-fold blessing of the Kohanim, which appears in this week's parasha, is embedded another three-fold blessing. According to the midrashic compilation Bamidbar Rabba, the last of the three priestly blessings - "May He grant you peace" - actually refers to three different types of peace: 1) peace when you come in to your home; 2) peace when you go out from your home; and 3) peace with all of mankind.

The Ktav Sofer (1815-1873), son of the famed Hatam Sofer, connects this commentary on the three-fold nature of peace to a seemingly unrelated passage in Masekhet Berakhot, which describes three objects that serve as harbingers to peace: a large pot, a river, and a bird. A person who sees one of these three things in a dream can anticipate peace.

Connecting the three-fold nature of Bamidbar Rabba's discussion on peace with that of Masekhet Berachot, the Ktav Sofer draws a direct parallel between the types of peace and the harbingers of peace. The first kind of peace - peace when you come into your home - is symbolized by a large pot, representing the peace of an individual family gathered around a shared table. The second type of peace - peace when you go out from your home - is symbolized by a river and represents peace on a national scale. Rivers sustain entire societies, demarcate national boundaries and, although they are in constant motion, their basic contours remain the same. The last type of peace - peace with all of mankind - is symbolized by a bird and represents global peace. Birds migrate from place to place and call the entire world home, emphasizing the interconnectedness of every living thing.

For the past sixty years, beset by war and constant troubles, Israel has pursued the dream of national peace - peace when you go out from your home. The Ktav Sofer, drawing inspiration from Bamidbar Rabba and Masekhet Berakhot, teaches that a dream of national peace must be interconnected with dreams of shalom bayit as well as harmony for all humanity. May the next sixty years in Israel's history bring with them this three-fold blessing of peace.
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