I am a Cohain

["Mikdasheich Tuv", pp. 57-60[


Shalom. I am a Cohain, but if you look for me in the Beit Ha-Mikdash, you will not find me. You think my entire life revolves around issues concerning the Beit Ha-Mikdash and sacrifices? You will be surprised to hear that I am only in the Beit Ha-Mikdash two weeks a year, because we are divided into twenty-four groups called "Mishmarot".  So what do I do all year long, you want to know?  I am something like a teacher.


We Cohanim were once reprimanded by one of the prophets. He was exasperated that there were Cohanim who were like robots performing the sacrifices and who did not relate to the Beit Ha-Mikdah and other holy acts and objects with "Cherdat Kodesh – trembling of holiness." We were very distressed, but we "profited" by receiving a clear job description: "For the Cohain's lips should guard knowledge, and they should seek Torah at his mouth, for he is a messenger of Hashem of Legions" (2:7). The prophet's name is Malachi, but this was not his invention. He only reminded us of the words of Moshe Rabbenu which we had forgotten: "They shall teach your statutes to Yaakov and Your Torah to Israel" (Devarim 33:10).


That’s it, I am a teacher. Not just a regular school teacher, but someone capable of being a supreme teacher, like an angel. Not an official teacher, but a personal, intimate teacher. Not a teacher with a fixed position, but a "traveling" teacher. But the two weeks that I spend in the Temple, they are the heart of my time. You know that there are different levels in the Temple: The Temple Mount, the courtyards, the Holy, the Holy of Holies. And what is in the Holy of Holies? The Torah. I am full of Torah, full of the word of Hashem and I bring it to others. What do you think? How can I give it to others if I do not possess it myself?


Understand me. We, the Cohanim, are not an isolated and separated group. We are with you. We are connected and attached to you. All of the effort we exert in life is for you. You have certainly heard about out elder, Aharon Ha-Cohain, of whom it is said: "Aharon shall bear the names of the sons of Israel on the Breastplate of Judgment on his heart when he enters the Holy, as a constant remembrance before Hashem" (Shemot 28:29). The entire Nation of Israel is on his heart.


I have nothing. I do not have fields. I do not have vineyards. I do not have factories. Everything I have is for the Nation of Israel. But I do not worry. I know that any place I go I will receive from a cheerful face what I need for a modest life. And you also do not need to worry that perhaps "you will be embarrassed" that you spend your entire lives involved with physical work. You know that there are religious people who are against building the Land, agriculture, and the army. They fear that the profane will swallow up the holy. I am not afraid. Just the opposite.  I think that it is impossible to build a state with half of one's energy. But what about fearing the profane? On account of this, I exist and am traveling among you. I am an "angel" who travels among the living. My world is not outside of life or after life. It is even forbidden for me to come in contact with the dead.  I am among the living. I am not a Cohain who is closed-off, but a Cohain who travels around.


Every place I go, everyone excitedly brings me something from his fruits. This one brings oranges and that one brings bananas for my children. I do not force anyone; just the opposite, everyone happily gives to me. I am also happy to give them what I have. Over the course of a few weeks I soak up incredible holiness in the Beit Ha-Mikdash, and pass it out all year long, in an endless number of personal conversations.  Sometimes complex questions arise in life, and one needs to take counsel. It is true that there are judges and sages for this purpose, but sometimes it is preferable to consult a Cohain. I did not invent this idea. It is explicitly written that if you are in doubt about something: "You shall go to the Cohanim, the Levi'im and the judges who will be in those days" (Devarim 17:9).


I will now reveal a secret to you, the entire truth. Everything I do for you is because I love you. Yes, I love you, I love all of you. When I bless you, I do not simply say a blessing, but I say: "Who has made us holy with the holiness of Aharon, and has commanded us to bless His Nation Israel with love." This is the holiness of Aharon: "Loving peace and pursuing peace, loving people and bringing them closer to the Torah" (Pirkei Avot 1:12).