כֹּה (Koh)-Like Stars in the Sky

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    • intomeaning 5 months ago

      When Sefardim say the morning blessings they include the birkat kohanim, the priestly blessing. And the birkat kohanim explains that HaShem instructs Aharon the kohen gadol (the High Priest) and his sons to bless the nation of Israel, ko tevarechu et bnei yisroel, So shall you bless the children of Israel.”[1] (ko-So shall is spelled in Hebrew as כֹּה)That same verse can be translated as “You will bless the children of Israel [with] ko כֹּה.” So, what is the ko כֹּה the kohanim have to bless the nation with? It seems to me that there is a connection with the כֹּה the kohanim are blessing the nation with and Hannukah. How? Firstly, Hannukah in Hebrew is spelled חנוכה. The last two letters of the Hebrew word for Hannukah are the same letters used in the birkat kohanimכה. Moreover, כה has a numerical value of 25 and Hannukah falls on כה -Kislev, the 25th of the Hebrew month of Kislev. Furthermore, the Holiday of Hannukah deals with the story of kohanim and their battle with the Greeks. So, you have the birkat kohanim, which deals with blessing the nation with כה and the holiday of חנוכה, on כה-the 25th of Kislev that deals with kohanim doing battle with the Greeks.

      Let’s look at כה even deeper.  In the story of the akeida[2], Abraham (who is the high priest of his time[3]) speaks to his servants instructing them to stay put and wait for him and Isaac, shevu lachem po in hachamor v’ani vehanar nelcha ad ko, “You stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go until ko כה[4].” Rashi on that verse, comments that the usage of ad koh כה by Abraham is connected to a previous usage of ko כה where HaShem promises Abraham that his descendants will be like the stars in the sky, “He took him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ And He added, ‘So shall-( כה) your offspring be. [5]’” Perhaps the כה that Abraham’s offspring will be is connected to the כה that Aharon and his sons are told to bless the nation with of being like stars in the sky. But what is the connection between כה and being like stars in the sky? And what does that have to do with the kohanim in חנוכה?

      Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg zt’l explains that the function of Rabbinically ordained holidays (Hannukah and Purim) is to give the nation of Israel the capacity to survive in a world where there is no beit Hamikdash[6]to function as stars in a night sky. So perhaps the כה that was a promise to one kohen (Abraham) is the same כה the kohanim are tasked to bless the nation with (the capacity to function as a light in a world that is darkened to Hashem’s presence). Perhaps that כהextends to the kohanim in חנוכה, whose battle is against the Greek world seeking to expel the idea of the Hashem, His Torah, and His commandments in the world. It speaks to me in this way because I am not always able to connect to my teachers because I have a busy life. And when my life gets busier, their teachings are at risk of being forgotten. But the blessing of כה is one that connects me to the light of my teachers’ Torah even if I am not in contact with them at the present moment. I pray that Hashem extend the goodness afforded to us by our teachers in all moments of our daily lives. Happy חנוכה!

      [1] Numbers 6:23

      [2] The Binding of Isaac

      [3] Ealier in Genesis, Abraham is blessed by Malki Tzedek. Malki Tzedek is referred to as the Kohen l’kel elyon, “The priest of God most High” (Genesis 14:18). When giving Abraham a blessing, Malki Tzedek refers to Abraham as Avram l’kel elyon, “…Abram of God most High” (Genesis 14:19). I learned from my Rebbe (Rabbi Simcha Weinberg) n’y that Malki Tzedek is transferring the status of High Priest to Abraham.

      [4] Genesis 22:5

      [5] Genesis 15:5

      [6] The beit Hamikdash was the medium through which Hashem’s presence was openly revealed the nation of Israel-Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg ztl

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