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The Blessing of a Righteous Person

By: Rabbi Barak Bar-Chaim

The Mishkan (Tabernacle) was not intended to simply be a sanctuary dedicated to serve God through prayer and korbanot (offerings); The Mishkan was to be the place where the Divine Presence would dwell. Rashi explains that, after the sin of the golden calf, the Jewish people desperately needed to see and feel that God was, indeed, still with them.

Moshe Rabeinu had brought offerings, erected and dismantled the Mishkan for seven days, and, yet, the Divine Presence did not enter the Mishkan. Finally, on the eighth day, Moshe Rabeinu commands Aharon (his brother) to bring the offerings in the Mishkan. Aharon brings the offerings and blesses the people with the three priestly blessings. Aharon and Moshe then bless the people saying: “And may the pleasantness of the Lord our God be upon us, and the work of our hands establish for us, and the work of our hands establish it.” Finally, the Honor of God (the Divine Presence) is revealed to the people as they witness a heavenly fire consume their offerings. Humbled, the nation then praises God.

Moshe and Aharon were the great righteous people of their day. The Torah records that they both blessed the nation and prayed for the Divine Presence to rest upon the people. The prayers and blessings of Tzadikim (righteous people) are very powerful. This past week, we lost one of the Torah giants of our generation, Rav Chaim Kanievsky, of blessed memory. Thousands of people from all walks of life had poured their hearts out to Rav Kanievsky. He spent countless hours listening to people’s problems, offering advice, support, prayers, and blessings at no charge. A secular professor who visited with Rav Kanievsky on numerous occasions, expressed his wish that there were a secular equivalent of Rav Chaim Kanievsky to help people with their problems.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky was, arguably, the greatest scholar of our generation. Nonetheless, he dedicated hours each day to dealing with people’s problems and to offering blessings and advice to people from all walks of life (regardless of their financial status or societal standing). This combination of Torah study and loving kindness is truly inspirational. Like Moshe and Aharon, our great righteous people see it as their role to bring every person to see and feel God’s presence in their lives. Feeling and seeing God’s presence in our lives is, indeed, the greatest blessing of all.