The bracha that the kohanim recite before birkas kohanim ends with "be'ahavah" (with love). I have read that this expresses that the fact that the kohanim are required to feel love when saying birkas kohanim.

Why is feeling love a requirement, if the kohanim are merely a conduit for a blessing from Hashem? Why wouldn't the bracha be effective regardless of the feelings of the kohanim involved? What would be the negative impact of a kohen who did not feel love saying the blessing? And finally, since there is no explicit mention of love in this context in the Torah, do we have any idea where chazal learned this?

  • 1
    There's also some rule about a kohen not blessing a congregation with whom he has a feud -- or something like that. (CYLOR of course.) I wonder whether that's related.
    – msh210
    May 9, 2013 at 18:12

2 Answers 2


The nusach hab'racha to "bless His nation Israel with love" is stated in Sotah (39a) by Rabbi Zeira in the name of Rav Chisda.

The Zohar (Naso, 147b) writes that a kohein who blesses is required to have fond feelings towards the congregation. This is based on a similar teaching to that of the gemara (ibid. 38b, quoted in Gershon's answer) that "someone with a good eye should bless":

תאנא כל כהן דלא אשלים אתעביד תלא דגרמי. מ"ט משום דלא בריך בחביבותא וקם אחר ופריס ידוי ובריך ואתתקן ההוא יומא. כל כהן דהוא לא רחים לעמא או עמא לא רחמין ליה לא יפרוס ידוי לברכא לעמא דכתיב טוב עין הוא יבורך אל תקרי יבורך אלא יברך

The Magen Avraham (128:11) cites this Zohar in explanation of the formulation of the nusach to "bless His nation Israel with love."

In a similar vein, the Midrash Tanchuma (Naso, § 10) notes that the command for the kohanim to say the blessing is written expansively with a vav in the word אמור (B'midbar 6:23). The Tanchuma derives from this that the blessing should be transmitted fervently rather than grudgingly or hurriedly:

כה תברכו את בני ישראל אמור להם אמור מלא כתיב אמר להם הקב"ה לכהנים לא מפני שאמרתי לכם שתהיו מברכין אותם באנגריא ובבהלות אלא תהיו מברכין אותם בכונת הלב כדי שתשלים הברכה בהם, לכך נאמר אמור מלא

In fact, the Be'er Sheva (Sotah 39a, s.v. לברך את ישראל באהבה) interprets the Tanchuma as requiring kohanim to bless the people with love. R' Avigdor Nebenzahl explains that a kohein must bless with love since he is the conduit for HaShem's blessing upon the people (per B'midbar 6:27, "ושמו את שמי על בני ישראל ואני אברכם").


Sotah 38: discusses Birchas Kohanim and then goes on to say that we do not give the Kos Shel Bracha only to one with a good eye.

אמר ר' יהושע בן לוי: אין נותנים כוס של ברכה לברך אלא לטוב עין שנאמר: טוב עין הוא יבורך, אל תקרי יבורך אלא יברך

Maharsha explains on this how Birchas Kohanim is supposed to be done B'Ahava = good eye.

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