Audio Roundup 2023:45

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by Joel Rich

During a recent talk to gap year students, the speaker praised their courage in deciding to remain in Israel. I’m sure the language was appreciated by the students and their parents, but I cannot help but think that it’s only courageous if you take the western liberal view of the primary importance of the individual. There is, however, a view that we are the eternal people with an eternal destiny, and we will each be judged on how we play our role in that destiny. In that case it seems to me that the default decision is to be part of the Jewish people in the land of Israel, and you would have to find another term for those who choose to leave.

A fascinating insight from the Alei Tamar( Rabbi Yissachar b. Zvi Tamar 1886-1982) on the Jerusalem Talmud chapter 5, halacha 4)
He posits the reason why there is no daily birchat cohanim outside of Israel on the fact that, in order for the blessing to be given, it must be done with full joy, full love of the Jewish people, with complete, full intent and equanimity of mind with the best of voices.

He thus explains a report of a practice in Italy that when the Cohanim went up to the duchen, only one would say the birchat cohanim (either the greatest of them or with the one with the best voice.) While this practice seems to be inconsistent with the Talmud, he posits that it’s an ancient practice, and they were so worried that they would not be able to do it right that they selected only the greatest to say it the others would get credit through him.

The kicker is that over the years it went from being the most qualified cohen to the one with the best voice. Insert your own commentary here.

Please direct any informal comments to [email protected].

About Joel Rich

Joel Rich is a frequent wannabee cyberspace lecturer on various Torah topics. A Yerushalmi formerly temporarily living in West Orange, NJ, his former employer and the Social Security administration support his Torah listening habits. He is a recovering consulting actuary.

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