- Rabbi Ben Tzion Spitz
Influence and Charity (Naso)
In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us. -Flora Edwards In the Torah reading of Naso, we’re presented with the formula of the Priestly Blessing, the blessing that Aaron the High Priest and his descendants, the Kohens, were commanded to give the nation of Israel, since the giving of the Torah and until today. It is also a traditional blessing which parents bestow upon their children every Friday night, before the Kiddush, before welcoming the Sabbath. The verses are as follows: “And God spoke to Moses: Speak to Aaron and his sons: Thus shall you bless the people of Israel. Say to them: May God bless you and protect you! May God shine His face upon you and be gracious with you! May God turn His face to you and bestow upon you peace! And place My Name upon the Children of Israel and I shall bless them.” -Numbers 6:22-27 When the Kohens recite the blessing, they outstretch their arms, palms facing downward. The Berdichever reads a great symbolism in the positioning of the hands. When a person receives an item, they will outstretch their arm and typically have their palm facing upwards. The person giving the item will have their hand facing downward. The giver has their palm down, the receiver has their palm up. The Kohens, with their palms down, are giving, they are transmitting blessings, they are influencing. They are even influencing God and, in some sense, giving to God. God very much enjoys such positive influence, and in turn Himself will then give goodness and blessings upon Israel. The Berdichever adds that when we pray to God, if we are praying just for ourselves, then we are merely receivers with little influence. However, if when we pray, we do so to give to God, to give Him pleasure, then we’re considered givers and have great influence over divinely ordained results. However, this influence is not limited to just prayer. Whenever we give, whenever we’re charitable, whenever we’re kind and caring, we become divine influencers and that causes God to respond to us in kind, charitably, kindly, caringly.
May we do good and have that goodness come back to us manifold.