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The bridge between heaven and earth

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20.05.2021

“May the Lord bless you and guard you. May God shine His face upon you, and bestow you with grace. May God lift His face upon you, and bring you peace,” (Bamidbar 6, 24-26).

There’s a famous story about Birkat Kohanim, the Priestly Blessing, and Rabbi Eliyahu of Vilna, known as the Gra, and his main student, Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin. The Ashkanazi custom, at that time in the 18th Century, and still today, was that Kohanim outside the land of Israel only recite Birkat Kohanim on Mussaf of the three pilgrimage holidays, the Shalosh Regalim. But the Gra insisted that Birkat Kohanim should be recited in synagogue every day even in the Diaspora, and so he decided to reinstitute it in his community. But the night before it was to be, he was arrested on false charges. His student Rabbi Chaim also decided to implement the ruling of his teacher, and instructed his community to allow Birkat Kohanim every day; but the night before, there was a terrible fire in Volozhin, and all the synagogues burned down.

The two great rabbis took this as a sign from Heaven that Bikrat Kohanim should only be said daily in the Land of Israel, and indeed, when the students of the Gra arrived in the Land of Israel, they set up the custom of the Kohanim reciting Birkat Kohanim every day,........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)


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