כה תברכו את בני ישראל אמור להם (נשא ו:כג)
So, shall you bless the Yidden and tell them…
A kohen who lived in the city of Bilgoray married a divorcee, which is forbidden by the Torah. The Bilgoray Rav zt’’l admonished him relentlessly to divorce his wife, but he simply ignored it. On Yom Tov, when it was time to dichen (recite the Birchas Kohanim), this kohen ascended the podium with the other kohanim to bless the congregants, creating a tumult in Shul.
People yelled that a kohen who transgresses the Torah isn’t worthy to bless us. The kohen ignored the commotion and ascended the podium. When the Bilgoray Rav saw this, he announced that the Kohanim would not dichen this year.
The Bilgoray Rav surmised that the Kohan would realize that the remaining Kohanim weren’t dichening because of him, and he would for sure descend from the podium. But alas, the kohen didn’t seem bothered, and the congregation concluded the Yom Tov Mussaf prayers without Birchas Kohanim.
A few Yomim Tovim passed with a repeat of the same scene until one Yom Tov the kohen realized that because of his grave actions, the congregation wasn’t receiving their due blessings of Birchas Kohanim.
He divorced his wife and repented for his actions. When the next Yom Tov approached, the Bilogray Rav announced that the Kohanim won’t ascent the podium to dichen – and only this kohan will dichen alone this year.
When Maran Reb Aharon of Belz zt’’l was told this story, he was awed by his brother’s brilliant action that caused the Kohan to repent and, in addition, give him the notable honor to dichen alone as an atonement.Filed under Parshas Nasso | Rabbi Aharon of Belz