Hard Circumstances and Blessings

The other day I made a siyum on Maseches Rosh Hashanah.

At the end of Maseches Rosh Hashana there’s a brief discussion as to who is included as blessed in Birkas Kohanim (the Priestly Blessing) in relation to other halochos. It says there that the Yidden working in the fields are included, whereas those in the shul who are behind the Kohanim are not included. Those who are in the fields are included in the blessing since they were prevented from going by circumstances beyond their control, whereas Yidden in the shul who are behind the Kohanim are not included, since they could simply walk in front of them and receive the blessing the proper way. Rashi as brought by the Likutei Rashi says that the reason those in shul who don’t move in front of the Kohanim aren’t blessed because they show disregard for Birkas Kohanim.

So what can we learn from this? Hashem knows what’s truly in a person’s heart, like it says in Tehillim, and we say on Rosh HaShonoh that He knows all the things that are concealed. Rather than saying that Hashem will withhold brochos from or exact punishment upon a person due to circumstances they can’t control goes against what little we know of Hashem’s nature; that He is merciful and does Chesed. So we see that even for simple Yidden in the field who are unable to come to shul for whatever reason also can get a portion in the brochos.

We can also see the importance of doing hisbodedus from here, especially in Elul when “The King is in the field.” A pushete Yid who goes out and talks to Hashem by himself can receive the same brochos as someone who stands in front of the Kohanim in shul, while someone can go and spend time in shul and not receive any brochos at all. It is most necessary to contemplate our purpose in shul, especially on Rosh Hashana, and to adopt the proper approach to the holy day. Rather than simply going through the motions, we must realize that we are coming before Hashem on the day of judgment with all the Briah (Creation); and even though it is such a huge day we still come home afterwards and make kiddush and a seudas Yom Tov, by night including various “Simonim” the special foods meant to help us have a good year through their symbolic associations and consumption. Just as we show that we are happy with Hashem’s Torah and mitzvos, considering we make a seudah as required, so can Hashem show His gladness (kav’yochol) with us and grant us all the brochos we require for each year.

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