Grace is Important!
By: Rabbi Barak Bar-Chaim
In Parshat Nasso, the Torah gives the Kohanim the special Mitzvah of Birkat Kohanim, the Priestly Blessings. In the first blessing “May the Lord bless you and watch over you” (Numbers 6, 24), the Kohanim bless the people with physical blessing and God’s protection.
The second priestly blessing is: “May the Lord cause His countenance to shine upon you and give you favor (grace)” (Numbers 6, 25). There are clearly two aspects of this blessing: 1) May the Lord cause His countenance to shine upon you”, and 2) “…and give you favor (grace)”. Rashi interprets the first part of the verse to mean “May God show you a radiant and jovial face” and the second part of the verse to mean “May God give you favor/grace.” What is favor/grace? Why is favor and grace a blessing?
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (Likutei Moharan 1,1) explains that grace is a spiritual quality within a person that results in others wanting to fulfill the will/requests of that person. Having grace is extremely beneficial to our relationships and interactions with other human beings. People filled with grace will more likely accomplish their desired outcomes, because others will fulfill their requests and provide them with assistance. The Netziv and Rebbe Nachman both explain that, just like in human relationships, grace is essential in our relationship with God. The acceptance of our prayers and requests to God are dependent upon us finding favor/grace in the ‘eyes’ of God. When we possess this quality (grace), our prayers are far more powerful and far more likely to be answered.
While it is possible that some people naturally possess this quality more than others, it is essential for everyone. How, then, does one develop this quality of grace/favor? We see from the Priestly Blessings that one can receive this quality as a Divine blessing. Therefore, praying to receive this quality as a Divine gift is virtuous.
Rebbe Nachman suggests another way (based on the teaching of our sages) to acquire the quality of Divine grace/favor. Our sages teach us that deep Torah combined with faith results in us attaining Divine grace. Proverbs (5, 19) refers to the Torah as a “graceful gazelle (ya’alah)” from which our sages say “she (Torah) brings grace upon those who study Torah.” Let us strengthen our in-depth Torah study and, in doing so, merit Divine grace through which God will accept our prayers.