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  • Masechet Sotah is sponsored by Ahava Leibtag in honor of Dr. Bryna Levy who helped her fall deep in love with learning.

Sotah 38

There are a number of differences between the blessing of the Kohanim in the Beit Hamikdash and out side of the Beit Hamikdash. 聽Many details聽are derived relating to聽the blessing of the Kohanim – in Hebrew only, while standing, they face聽the people and the people face them, out loud, etc. 聽What if there is only one Kohen? 聽 Who calls聽up the聽Kohanim? 聽What if a Kohen doesn’t want to say the blessings?

Study Guide Sotah 38


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as it is written in the Torah, i.e., the Tetragrammaton, and in the country they use its substitute name of Lordship. In the country, the priests lift their hands so they are aligned with their shoulders during the benediction. And in the Temple they lift them above their heads, except for the High Priest, who does not lift his hands above the frontplate. Since the Tetragrammaton is inscribed on it, it is inappropriate for him to lift his hands above it. Rabbi Yehuda says: Even the High Priest lifts his hands above the frontplate, as it is stated: 鈥淎nd Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them鈥 (Leviticus 9:22).

GEMARA: The Sages taught: The mitzva given to the priests: 鈥淪o you shall bless the children of Israel鈥 (Numbers 6:23), is that they bless them in the sacred tongue, Hebrew. Do you say that the benediction must be recited in the sacred tongue, or perhaps it may be recited in any language? The baraita answers: It is stated here, with regard to the Priestly Benediction: 鈥淪o you shall bless,鈥 and it is stated there, with regard to the blessings and curses: 鈥淭hese shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people鈥 (Deuteronomy 27:12). There is a verbal analogy between these two usages of the word 鈥渂less鈥: Just as there, the blessings and curses were recited in the sacred tongue, as stated above (33a), so too here, the Priestly Benediction is recited in the sacred tongue.

Rabbi Yehuda says: It is not necessary to derive this from a verbal analogy, as it says with regard to the Priestly Benediction: 鈥淭hus,鈥 which means that it is not recited correctly unless they recite it in this exact language, as it is written in the Torah.

It is taught in another baraita: 鈥淪o you shall bless,鈥 means while standing. Do you say that the benediction must be recited while standing, or perhaps it may even be recited while sitting? It is stated here: 鈥淪o you shall bless,鈥 and it is stated there, with regard to the blessings and curses: 鈥淭hese shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless.鈥 Just as there, the blessing was recited while standing, so too here, the priests must recite the Priestly Benediction while standing.

Rabbi Natan says: It is not necessary to derive this from a verbal analogy, as it says in the verse: 鈥淎t that time the Lord separated the tribe of Levi to bear the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister to Him and to bless in His name鈥 (Deuteronomy 10:8). Just as a priest performs the Temple service while standing, so too, he blesses while standing. The Gemara asks: And from where do we derive that he performs the service itself while standing? As it is written: 鈥淭o stand to minister in the name of the Lord鈥 (Deuteronomy 18:5).

It is taught in another baraita: 鈥淪o you shall bless鈥 means with lifted hands. Do you say that the priests must recite the benediction with lifted hands, or perhaps they may recite it without lifted hands? It is stated here: 鈥淪o you shall bless,鈥 and it is stated there, with regard to the dedication of the Tabernacle: 鈥淎nd Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them鈥 (Leviticus 9:22). Just as there, Aaron blessed the nation with lifted hands, so too here, the Priestly Benediction is recited with lifted hands.

This halakha was difficult for Rabbi Yonatan to understand: If this halakha is derived from the dedication of the Tabernacle, then why not also say: Just as there, the High Priest was the one who recited the blessing, and it was the New Moon, and the offerings that were brought were a communal service, so too here, the Priestly Benediction must be recited only by the High Priest, and on the New Moon, and when performing a communal service?

Rabbi Natan says: It is not necessary to derive from a verbal analogy that the Priestly Benediction is recited with lifted hands, as it says with regard to Aaron: 鈥淭o stand to minister in the name of the Lord, him and his sons forever鈥 (Deuteronomy 18:5). In this verse, his sons are juxtaposed with him. Just as Aaron recited the Priestly Benediction with lifted hands, so too, his sons recite the benediction with lifted hands. And furthermore, it is written 鈥渇orever,鈥 which indicates that it is referring not only to special occasions. And although the verse is not referring to the Priestly Benediction, the benediction is juxtaposed to the Temple service in another verse: 鈥淭o minister to Him and to bless in His name鈥 (Deuteronomy 10:8).

And it is taught in another baraita: 鈥淪o you shall bless the children of Israel鈥 means the blessing should be recited with the ineffable name. Do you say that the Priestly Benediction must be recited with the ineffable name, or perhaps it is recited with only the substitute name, Adonai? The verse states: 鈥淪o shall they put My name鈥 (Numbers 6:27), which means My name that is unique to Me.

One might have thought that even in the outlying areas, outside the Temple, this ineffable name is used. It is stated here, with regard to the Priestly Benediction: 鈥淪o shall they put My name,鈥 and it is stated there, with regard to the place one must sacrifice offerings: 鈥淭he place that the Lord your God has chosen out of all your tribes to put His name there鈥 (Deuteronomy 12:5). The verbal analogy teaches that just as there, the expression 鈥渢o put His name there鈥 is referring to the Temple, so too here, the mitzva of 鈥渟o shall they put My name鈥 applies in the Temple and not anywhere else.

Rabbi Yoshiya says: It is not necessary to derive this halakha from the verbal analogy, as it can be derived from a verse. It says in the verse: 鈥淚n every place where I cause My name to be mentioned I will come to you and bless you鈥 (Exodus 20:20). Does it enter your mind that this verse literally means that the Divine Presence will be revealed everywhere? Rather, this verse must be interpreted by transposition. It must be reordered and read as follows: In every place where I will come to you and bless you, there I will cause My name to be mentioned. Rabbi Yoshiya explains that God is stating: And where will I come to you and bless you? In the Temple. Therefore, he derives: There, in the Temple, I will cause My name to be mentioned, but the ineffable name is not mentioned elsewhere.

It is taught in another baraita: 鈥淪o you shall bless the sons of Israel鈥 (Numbers 6:23). I have derived only the halakha to bless the sons of Israel. From where do I derive the halakha of blessing converts, women, and emancipated slaves? The verse states immediately afterward: 鈥淵ou shall say to them,鈥 meaning to all of the Jewish people.

It is taught in another baraita: 鈥淪o you shall bless,鈥 means that the priests must recite the Priestly Benediction face-to-face with the congregation. Do you say that the Benediction must be recited face-to-face, or perhaps it is only recited with the faces of the priests facing the back of the necks of the congregation? The verse states: 鈥淵ou shall say to them,鈥 face-to-face, like a person who is talking to another.

It is taught in another baraita: 鈥淪o you shall bless鈥 means that the benediction must be recited out loud. Or, perhaps, is it recited only in a whisper? The verse states: 鈥淵ou shall say to them,鈥 like a person who is talking to another.

Abaye said: We have a tradition with regard to the prayer leader calling the priests to recite the Priestly Benediction: When there are two priests, he calls: Priests, but when there is one priest he does not call: Priest, as it is stated: 鈥淵ou shall say to them,鈥 in plural, meaning to a minimum of two priests. And Rav 岣sda said: We have a tradition that a priest calls: Priests, but an Israelite does not call: Priests, as it is stated: 鈥淵ou shall say to them,鈥 which means that the saying


should be from them; one of the priests themselves should call: Priests. The Gemara concludes: And the halakha is in accordance with the opinion of Abaye, that when only one priest is present, the prayer leader does not call: Priest. And the halakha is not in accordance with the opinion of Rav 岣sda, as an Israelite may also call: Priests.

搂 The Gemara cites a mnemonic device for the statements of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi: Desires the benediction, platform, during the service, cup, recognize, derives benefit, from a heifer.

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: From where is it derived that the Holy One, Blessed be He, desires the Priestly Benediction? As it is stated: 鈥淪o shall they put My name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them鈥 (Numbers 6:27). This shows that God waits for the priests to bless the people, and only then He Himself blesses them. And Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: Any priest who blesses the people is blessed from Heaven, and one who does not bless the people is not blessed, as it is stated: 鈥淎nd I will bless those who bless you鈥 (Genesis 12:3).

And Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: Any priest who does not ascend the platform to recite the Priestly Benediction violates three positive mitzvot: 鈥淪o you shall bless,鈥 鈥淎nd you shall say to them鈥 (Numbers 6:23), and 鈥淪o shall they put My name鈥 (Numbers 6:27).

Rav says: One need be concerned that a priest who does not ascend to recite the Priestly Benediction is perhaps the son of a priest and a divorced woman, or the son of a priest and a yevama who has performed 岣litza [岣lutza]. Perhaps he does not ascend to recite the Priestly Benediction because he is disqualified from the priesthood.

The Gemara comments: And they do not disagree. This statement of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi is referring to a case where he ascends periodically. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that he is disqualified from the priesthood, and the assumption is that he violates three positive mitzvot. Whereas that statement of Rav is referring to a case where one does not ascend to recite the Priestly Benediction even periodically, and therefore there is reason to suspect that he is disqualified from the priesthood.

And Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: Any priest who does not ascend the platform during the blessing of the Temple service recited in the Amida prayer may no longer ascend to recite the benediction, as it is stated: 鈥淎nd Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them; and he came down from offering the sin-offering, and the burnt-offering, and the peace-offerings鈥 (Leviticus 9:22). Just as there, in the Tabernacle, Aaron lifted up his hands during the service, as evident from the fact that only after he blessed them does it say that he came down from sacrificing the offerings, so too here, in the Amida prayer, the Priestly Benediction is recited during the blessing of Temple service.

The Gemara asks: Is that so? But didn鈥檛 the priests Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi ascend after the blessing of the service? The Gemara answers: Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi would begin walking to the platform during the blessing of the service, but they would not arrive there until after the conclusion of this blessing. And this is sufficient in accordance with what Rabbi Oshaya taught: They taught that a priest may not recite the benediction if he did not ascend the platform during the blessing of Temple service only in a case where he did not begin walking. But if he began walking before the prayer leader finished the blessing, he may ascend the platform even after he has finished the blessing.

And concerning this issue, we also learned in a mishna (Berakhot 34a): A priest who serves as prayer leader does not recite the Priestly Benediction, but if he is certain that he can lift his hands and recite the benediction, and then resume his prayer without becoming confused, he is permitted to do so. And we discussed it and raised the following difficulty: If he did not begin walking to ascend the platform during the blessing of the service, how is it permitted for him to recite the benediction? Rather, it must be explained that he moved slightly to show that he also wanted to ascend the platform. Here too, the statement of Rabbi Oshaya is referring even to a case where the priest uprooted himself slightly from his place during the blessing of the service.

And Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: One may give a cup of blessing to recite the blessing of Grace after Meals only to someone with a good eye, i.e., a generous person, as it is stated: 鈥淥ne who has a good eye will be blessed [yevorakh], for he gives of his bread to the poor鈥 (Proverbs 22:9). Do not read it: 鈥Will be blessed.鈥 Rather, read it: Will bless [yevarekh].

And Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: From where is it derived that even birds recognize miserly people and do not eat the food they have set in bird traps? As it is stated: 鈥淔or in vain the net is spread in the eyes of any bird鈥 (Proverbs 1:17).

And Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: Anyone who derives benefit from miserly people transgresses a prohibition, as it is stated: 鈥淒o not eat the bread of one who has an evil eye, and do not desire his delicacies, for as one that has reckoned within himself, so he is. He says to you: Eat and drink, but his heart is not with you鈥 (Proverbs 23:6鈥7). Rav Na岣an bar Yitz岣k says: He transgresses two prohibitions, as it says 鈥渄o not eat鈥 and also 鈥渄o not desire.鈥

And Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: When a person is found slain between two cities and it is not known who killed him, a heifer whose neck is broken is brought. This occurs only because of miserly people.

As it is stated: 鈥淎nd they shall speak and say: Our hands have not shed this blood鈥 (Deuteronomy 21:7). But did it enter our hearts to think that the Elders of the court are murderers? Why it is necessary for them to publicize that they did not kill him? Rather, they must declare: It is not so that this victim came to us and we dismissed him, and it is not so that we saw him and left him. In other words, he did not come to us and we in turn dismissed him without food, and we did not see him and then leave him without an escort. It is miserly people who do not provide others with food and cause them to travel to places where they might be murdered.

Adda said that Rabbi Samlai says: In a synagogue that is made up entirely of priests, everyone ascends the platform to recite the Priestly Benediction. The Gemara asks: If the entire congregation is composed of priests, for whom do they utter the blessing? Rabbi Zeira says: They say the blessing for their brethren who are in the fields.

The Gemara asks: Is that so? But didn鈥檛 Abba, son of Rav Minyamin bar 岣yya, teach that the people who are standing behind the backs of the priests are not included in the Priestly Benediction? The Gemara answers: That is not difficult. This is a case where the people are compelled to be in the fields because of their work, and they are therefore included in the benediction. Whereas that statement is referring to people who are not compelled to be away but still do not stand face-to-face with the priests. Consequently, they are not included in the benediction.

The Gemara asks: But didn鈥檛 Rav Shimi of Birte deShi岣rei teach the following baraita: In a synagogue that is made up entirely of priests, some of them ascend to recite the benediction and some of them answer amen?

The Gemara answers: That is not difficult. That is a case where, if some of the priests recite the benediction, a quorum of ten priests still remains to receive the benediction and answer amen. Therefore, only some of the priests ascend to recite the benediction. By contrast, this case, which Rabbi Simlai was referring to, is a case where a quorum of ten does not remain to answer amen, so it is better for all of the priests to ascend and bless the people working in the fields.

The Gemara returns to the matter itself cited above: Abba, son of Rav Minyamin bar 岣yya, taught: The people who are standing behind the priests are not included in the benediction.

The Gemara raises several questions with regard to this statement: It is obvious that tall people standing in front of short people do not interpose between the priests and the shorter people with regard to the Priestly Benediction. Similarly, a chest or ark containing a Torah scroll does not interpose between the priests and the people. However, what is the halakha with regard to a partition? Come and hear an answer from what Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: Even an iron partition does not interpose between the Jewish people and their Father in Heaven; the people are included in the benediction.

A dilemma was raised before the Sages: What is the halakha in the case of people who are standing to the sides of the priests? Are they included in the blessing? Abba Mar bar Rav Ashi said: Come and hear an answer, as we learned in a mishna (Para 12:2) with regard to the halakha of sprinkling the waters of purification on vessels that contracted ritual impurity imparted by a corpse: If one intended to sprinkle the water forward




  • Masechet Sotah is sponsored by Ahava Leibtag in honor of Dr. Bryna Levy who helped her fall deep in love with learning.

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Sotah 38

as it is written in the Torah, i.e., the Tetragrammaton, and in the country they use its substitute name of Lordship. In the country, the priests lift their hands so they are aligned with their shoulders during the benediction. And in the Temple they lift them above their heads, except for the High Priest, who does not lift his hands above the frontplate. Since the Tetragrammaton is inscribed on it, it is inappropriate for him to lift his hands above it. Rabbi Yehuda says: Even the High Priest lifts his hands above the frontplate, as it is stated: 鈥淎nd Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them鈥 (Leviticus 9:22).

GEMARA: The Sages taught: The mitzva given to the priests: 鈥淪o you shall bless the children of Israel鈥 (Numbers 6:23), is that they bless them in the sacred tongue, Hebrew. Do you say that the benediction must be recited in the sacred tongue, or perhaps it may be recited in any language? The baraita answers: It is stated here, with regard to the Priestly Benediction: 鈥淪o you shall bless,鈥 and it is stated there, with regard to the blessings and curses: 鈥淭hese shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people鈥 (Deuteronomy 27:12). There is a verbal analogy between these two usages of the word 鈥渂less鈥: Just as there, the blessings and curses were recited in the sacred tongue, as stated above (33a), so too here, the Priestly Benediction is recited in the sacred tongue.

Rabbi Yehuda says: It is not necessary to derive this from a verbal analogy, as it says with regard to the Priestly Benediction: 鈥淭hus,鈥 which means that it is not recited correctly unless they recite it in this exact language, as it is written in the Torah.

It is taught in another baraita: 鈥淪o you shall bless,鈥 means while standing. Do you say that the benediction must be recited while standing, or perhaps it may even be recited while sitting? It is stated here: 鈥淪o you shall bless,鈥 and it is stated there, with regard to the blessings and curses: 鈥淭hese shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless.鈥 Just as there, the blessing was recited while standing, so too here, the priests must recite the Priestly Benediction while standing.

Rabbi Natan says: It is not necessary to derive this from a verbal analogy, as it says in the verse: 鈥淎t that time the Lord separated the tribe of Levi to bear the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister to Him and to bless in His name鈥 (Deuteronomy 10:8). Just as a priest performs the Temple service while standing, so too, he blesses while standing. The Gemara asks: And from where do we derive that he performs the service itself while standing? As it is written: 鈥淭o stand to minister in the name of the Lord鈥 (Deuteronomy 18:5).

It is taught in another baraita: 鈥淪o you shall bless鈥 means with lifted hands. Do you say that the priests must recite the benediction with lifted hands, or perhaps they may recite it without lifted hands? It is stated here: 鈥淪o you shall bless,鈥 and it is stated there, with regard to the dedication of the Tabernacle: 鈥淎nd Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them鈥 (Leviticus 9:22). Just as there, Aaron blessed the nation with lifted hands, so too here, the Priestly Benediction is recited with lifted hands.

This halakha was difficult for Rabbi Yonatan to understand: If this halakha is derived from the dedication of the Tabernacle, then why not also say: Just as there, the High Priest was the one who recited the blessing, and it was the New Moon, and the offerings that were brought were a communal service, so too here, the Priestly Benediction must be recited only by the High Priest, and on the New Moon, and when performing a communal service?

Rabbi Natan says: It is not necessary to derive from a verbal analogy that the Priestly Benediction is recited with lifted hands, as it says with regard to Aaron: 鈥淭o stand to minister in the name of the Lord, him and his sons forever鈥 (Deuteronomy 18:5). In this verse, his sons are juxtaposed with him. Just as Aaron recited the Priestly Benediction with lifted hands, so too, his sons recite the benediction with lifted hands. And furthermore, it is written 鈥渇orever,鈥 which indicates that it is referring not only to special occasions. And although the verse is not referring to the Priestly Benediction, the benediction is juxtaposed to the Temple service in another verse: 鈥淭o minister to Him and to bless in His name鈥 (Deuteronomy 10:8).

And it is taught in another baraita: 鈥淪o you shall bless the children of Israel鈥 means the blessing should be recited with the ineffable name. Do you say that the Priestly Benediction must be recited with the ineffable name, or perhaps it is recited with only the substitute name, Adonai? The verse states: 鈥淪o shall they put My name鈥 (Numbers 6:27), which means My name that is unique to Me.

One might have thought that even in the outlying areas, outside the Temple, this ineffable name is used. It is stated here, with regard to the Priestly Benediction: 鈥淪o shall they put My name,鈥 and it is stated there, with regard to the place one must sacrifice offerings: 鈥淭he place that the Lord your God has chosen out of all your tribes to put His name there鈥 (Deuteronomy 12:5). The verbal analogy teaches that just as there, the expression 鈥渢o put His name there鈥 is referring to the Temple, so too here, the mitzva of 鈥渟o shall they put My name鈥 applies in the Temple and not anywhere else.

Rabbi Yoshiya says: It is not necessary to derive this halakha from the verbal analogy, as it can be derived from a verse. It says in the verse: 鈥淚n every place where I cause My name to be mentioned I will come to you and bless you鈥 (Exodus 20:20). Does it enter your mind that this verse literally means that the Divine Presence will be revealed everywhere? Rather, this verse must be interpreted by transposition. It must be reordered and read as follows: In every place where I will come to you and bless you, there I will cause My name to be mentioned. Rabbi Yoshiya explains that God is stating: And where will I come to you and bless you? In the Temple. Therefore, he derives: There, in the Temple, I will cause My name to be mentioned, but the ineffable name is not mentioned elsewhere.

It is taught in another baraita: 鈥淪o you shall bless the sons of Israel鈥 (Numbers 6:23). I have derived only the halakha to bless the sons of Israel. From where do I derive the halakha of blessing converts, women, and emancipated slaves? The verse states immediately afterward: 鈥淵ou shall say to them,鈥 meaning to all of the Jewish people.

It is taught in another baraita: 鈥淪o you shall bless,鈥 means that the priests must recite the Priestly Benediction face-to-face with the congregation. Do you say that the Benediction must be recited face-to-face, or perhaps it is only recited with the faces of the priests facing the back of the necks of the congregation? The verse states: 鈥淵ou shall say to them,鈥 face-to-face, like a person who is talking to another.

It is taught in another baraita: 鈥淪o you shall bless鈥 means that the benediction must be recited out loud. Or, perhaps, is it recited only in a whisper? The verse states: 鈥淵ou shall say to them,鈥 like a person who is talking to another.

Abaye said: We have a tradition with regard to the prayer leader calling the priests to recite the Priestly Benediction: When there are two priests, he calls: Priests, but when there is one priest he does not call: Priest, as it is stated: 鈥淵ou shall say to them,鈥 in plural, meaning to a minimum of two priests. And Rav 岣sda said: We have a tradition that a priest calls: Priests, but an Israelite does not call: Priests, as it is stated: 鈥淵ou shall say to them,鈥 which means that the saying


should be from them; one of the priests themselves should call: Priests. The Gemara concludes: And the halakha is in accordance with the opinion of Abaye, that when only one priest is present, the prayer leader does not call: Priest. And the halakha is not in accordance with the opinion of Rav 岣sda, as an Israelite may also call: Priests.

搂 The Gemara cites a mnemonic device for the statements of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi: Desires the benediction, platform, during the service, cup, recognize, derives benefit, from a heifer.

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: From where is it derived that the Holy One, Blessed be He, desires the Priestly Benediction? As it is stated: 鈥淪o shall they put My name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them鈥 (Numbers 6:27). This shows that God waits for the priests to bless the people, and only then He Himself blesses them. And Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: Any priest who blesses the people is blessed from Heaven, and one who does not bless the people is not blessed, as it is stated: 鈥淎nd I will bless those who bless you鈥 (Genesis 12:3).

And Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: Any priest who does not ascend the platform to recite the Priestly Benediction violates three positive mitzvot: 鈥淪o you shall bless,鈥 鈥淎nd you shall say to them鈥 (Numbers 6:23), and 鈥淪o shall they put My name鈥 (Numbers 6:27).

Rav says: One need be concerned that a priest who does not ascend to recite the Priestly Benediction is perhaps the son of a priest and a divorced woman, or the son of a priest and a yevama who has performed 岣litza [岣lutza]. Perhaps he does not ascend to recite the Priestly Benediction because he is disqualified from the priesthood.

The Gemara comments: And they do not disagree. This statement of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi is referring to a case where he ascends periodically. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that he is disqualified from the priesthood, and the assumption is that he violates three positive mitzvot. Whereas that statement of Rav is referring to a case where one does not ascend to recite the Priestly Benediction even periodically, and therefore there is reason to suspect that he is disqualified from the priesthood.

And Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: Any priest who does not ascend the platform during the blessing of the Temple service recited in the Amida prayer may no longer ascend to recite the benediction, as it is stated: 鈥淎nd Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them; and he came down from offering the sin-offering, and the burnt-offering, and the peace-offerings鈥 (Leviticus 9:22). Just as there, in the Tabernacle, Aaron lifted up his hands during the service, as evident from the fact that only after he blessed them does it say that he came down from sacrificing the offerings, so too here, in the Amida prayer, the Priestly Benediction is recited during the blessing of Temple service.

The Gemara asks: Is that so? But didn鈥檛 the priests Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi ascend after the blessing of the service? The Gemara answers: Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi would begin walking to the platform during the blessing of the service, but they would not arrive there until after the conclusion of this blessing. And this is sufficient in accordance with what Rabbi Oshaya taught: They taught that a priest may not recite the benediction if he did not ascend the platform during the blessing of Temple service only in a case where he did not begin walking. But if he began walking before the prayer leader finished the blessing, he may ascend the platform even after he has finished the blessing.

And concerning this issue, we also learned in a mishna (Berakhot 34a): A priest who serves as prayer leader does not recite the Priestly Benediction, but if he is certain that he can lift his hands and recite the benediction, and then resume his prayer without becoming confused, he is permitted to do so. And we discussed it and raised the following difficulty: If he did not begin walking to ascend the platform during the blessing of the service, how is it permitted for him to recite the benediction? Rather, it must be explained that he moved slightly to show that he also wanted to ascend the platform. Here too, the statement of Rabbi Oshaya is referring even to a case where the priest uprooted himself slightly from his place during the blessing of the service.

And Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: One may give a cup of blessing to recite the blessing of Grace after Meals only to someone with a good eye, i.e., a generous person, as it is stated: 鈥淥ne who has a good eye will be blessed [yevorakh], for he gives of his bread to the poor鈥 (Proverbs 22:9). Do not read it: 鈥Will be blessed.鈥 Rather, read it: Will bless [yevarekh].

And Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: From where is it derived that even birds recognize miserly people and do not eat the food they have set in bird traps? As it is stated: 鈥淔or in vain the net is spread in the eyes of any bird鈥 (Proverbs 1:17).

And Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: Anyone who derives benefit from miserly people transgresses a prohibition, as it is stated: 鈥淒o not eat the bread of one who has an evil eye, and do not desire his delicacies, for as one that has reckoned within himself, so he is. He says to you: Eat and drink, but his heart is not with you鈥 (Proverbs 23:6鈥7). Rav Na岣an bar Yitz岣k says: He transgresses two prohibitions, as it says 鈥渄o not eat鈥 and also 鈥渄o not desire.鈥

And Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: When a person is found slain between two cities and it is not known who killed him, a heifer whose neck is broken is brought. This occurs only because of miserly people.

As it is stated: 鈥淎nd they shall speak and say: Our hands have not shed this blood鈥 (Deuteronomy 21:7). But did it enter our hearts to think that the Elders of the court are murderers? Why it is necessary for them to publicize that they did not kill him? Rather, they must declare: It is not so that this victim came to us and we dismissed him, and it is not so that we saw him and left him. In other words, he did not come to us and we in turn dismissed him without food, and we did not see him and then leave him without an escort. It is miserly people who do not provide others with food and cause them to travel to places where they might be murdered.

Adda said that Rabbi Samlai says: In a synagogue that is made up entirely of priests, everyone ascends the platform to recite the Priestly Benediction. The Gemara asks: If the entire congregation is composed of priests, for whom do they utter the blessing? Rabbi Zeira says: They say the blessing for their brethren who are in the fields.

The Gemara asks: Is that so? But didn鈥檛 Abba, son of Rav Minyamin bar 岣yya, teach that the people who are standing behind the backs of the priests are not included in the Priestly Benediction? The Gemara answers: That is not difficult. This is a case where the people are compelled to be in the fields because of their work, and they are therefore included in the benediction. Whereas that statement is referring to people who are not compelled to be away but still do not stand face-to-face with the priests. Consequently, they are not included in the benediction.

The Gemara asks: But didn鈥檛 Rav Shimi of Birte deShi岣rei teach the following baraita: In a synagogue that is made up entirely of priests, some of them ascend to recite the benediction and some of them answer amen?

The Gemara answers: That is not difficult. That is a case where, if some of the priests recite the benediction, a quorum of ten priests still remains to receive the benediction and answer amen. Therefore, only some of the priests ascend to recite the benediction. By contrast, this case, which Rabbi Simlai was referring to, is a case where a quorum of ten does not remain to answer amen, so it is better for all of the priests to ascend and bless the people working in the fields.

The Gemara returns to the matter itself cited above: Abba, son of Rav Minyamin bar 岣yya, taught: The people who are standing behind the priests are not included in the benediction.

The Gemara raises several questions with regard to this statement: It is obvious that tall people standing in front of short people do not interpose between the priests and the shorter people with regard to the Priestly Benediction. Similarly, a chest or ark containing a Torah scroll does not interpose between the priests and the people. However, what is the halakha with regard to a partition? Come and hear an answer from what Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: Even an iron partition does not interpose between the Jewish people and their Father in Heaven; the people are included in the benediction.

A dilemma was raised before the Sages: What is the halakha in the case of people who are standing to the sides of the priests? Are they included in the blessing? Abba Mar bar Rav Ashi said: Come and hear an answer, as we learned in a mishna (Para 12:2) with regard to the halakha of sprinkling the waters of purification on vessels that contracted ritual impurity imparted by a corpse: If one intended to sprinkle the water forward




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