This Shabbat:

Friday Candle Lighting: 7:38 pm
Shabbat Ends: 8:39 pm

Torah Message:

The Eye of the Beholder

“…May G-d illuminate His countenance for you and be gracious to you.” (13:17)

One of the phenomena of the twentieth century that defies complete understanding is The Beatles.

Granted, they had two outstanding composers and a third who was pretty good. They were prolific, writing around 300 songs. It’s true that Schubert wrote over 800 tunes, but only about a hundred are truly memorable. Mozart comes close to that, but you have to wait a long time until you get to someone who wrote so many goodtunes. The “mop-tops” were all appealing, thin, and full of youthful enthusiasm. And they were witty and iconoclastic. But nothing really can explain their huge success.

In this week’s Torah portion we find the blessing of the Kohen. The second stanza reads:

“May G-d illuminate His countenance for you and be gracious to you.”

If G-d illuminates His countenance for me, isn’t that the same as being gracious?

The word “gracious” in Hebrew here is chen. When Yosef was imprisoned in Egypt, the Torah says, “…and He endowed him with charisma, and He put favor in the eyes of the prison warden (Ber. 39:21) Chen in this verse is again translated as “favor”.

The message is the same in both verses. You can have bags and bags of charisma, but you’ll only ever be a legend in your own lunchtime if G-d gives you favor in the eyes of man.

You can be a lovable mop-top, a great songsmith and cute as a button, but to be a musical and sociological phenomenon — that only the Master of the World can grant.

  • Sources: Based on the Degel Machane Ephraim; Statistics: Howard Goodall