POINT BY POINT SUMMARY
Prepared by Rabbi P. Feldman
of Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Yerushalayim
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld
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Previous daf Sotah 38
SOTAH 38 - dedicated by Dr. Moshe and Rivkie Snow to the memory of their
mother/mother-in-law, Rebbetzin Leah Tilla bas Rav Yosef (Rabinowitz), the
Manostrishtcher Rebbetzin. (Yahrzeit: 15 Teves)
1) BLESSING OF THE KOHANIM
(a) In the Mikdash, Hash-m's name is said as it is written;
outside the Mikdash, a substitute name is said;
2) OTHER LAWS OF BIRKAS KOHANIM
(b) Outside the Mikdash, the Kohanim lift their hands to
shoulder height; in the Mikdash, they raise their hands
above their heads, except for the Kohen Gadol, since he
may not raise his hands above the headplate;
1. R. Yehudah says, even the Kohen Gadol raises his
hands above his head - "Aharon will lift his hands
towards the people and bless them".
(c) (Gemara - Beraisa): "So you will bless" - in Hebrew.
(d) Question: How do we know this - perhaps they may bless in
(e) Answer #1: We learn a Gezeirah Shavah "Bless-bless" from
the blessings on Har Grizim, which were in Hebrew.
(f) Answer #2 (R. Yehudah): We do not need to learn from a
Gezeirah Shavah - it says, "So you will bless" - exactly
as in the Torah, in Hebrew.
(g) (Beraisa): "So you will bless" - standing.
(h) Question: How do we know this - perhaps they may bless
(i) Answer #1: We learn a Gezeirah Shavah "Bless-bless" from
the blessings on Har Grizim, which were said standing.
(j) Answer #2 (R. Noson): We do not need to learn from a
Gezeirah Shavah - it says, "To serve (Hash-m), and to
bless in His name" - just as Temple service is done
standing, also blessing.
1. Question: How do we know that Temple service is done
(k) (Beraisa): "So you will bless" - with lifted hands.
2. Answer: "To stand and to serve".
(l) Question: How do we know this - perhaps they need not
lift their hands!
(m) Answer #1: We learn a Gezeirah Shavah. Here it says
bless, just as by "Aharon lifted his hands to the people
and blessed them".
1. Just as Aharon lifted his hands, also Birkas Kohanim
is with lifted hands.
(n) Objection (R. Yonason): If that is our source, we can
only learn that the Kohen Gadol raises his hands, only on
Rosh Chodesh, and only when doing an offering of the
(o) Answer #2 (R. Noson): We need not learn from a Gezeirah
Shavah. It says "(Aharon) and his children, for all days"
- this equates Aharon's children to Aharon.
1. Just as Aharon raised his hands, also his children
raise their hands.
(p) (Beraisa): "So you will bless" - with Hash-m's actual
2. It says "For all days"; and we have seen that
blessing is equated to Temple service.
(q) Question: How do we know this - perhaps they can bless by
other names by which we call Hash-m!
(r) Answer: "They will put My name" - My special name.
1. Suggestion: Perhaps Hash-m's special name should be
used even outside the Mikdash.
2. Rejection #1: We learn a Gezeirah Shavah from
another verse which says "To put His name", which
refers to the Beis ha'Mikdash.
3. Rejection #2 (R. Yoshiyah): We nee not learn that
from a Gezeirah Shavah - it says, "Every place I
will make My name mentioned, I will come to you and
i. Objection: This cannot be (that the Divine
Presence will dwell everywhere)!
4. Hash-m will come to the Beis ha'Mikdash, and there
His special name will be mentioned.
ii. Answer: The verse must be (understood)
transposed - "Every place I will come and bless
you, I will make My name mentioned."
(a) (Beraisa) Question: "So you will bless Bnei Yisrael" -
how do we know that they also bless converts, women and
(b) Answer: "Say to them" - to all of them.
(c) (Beraisa): "So you will bless" - face to face.
(d) Question: How do we know this - perhaps they can face
(e) Answer: "Say to them" - as a man speaking to his friend.
(f) (Beraisa): "So you will bless" - out loud.
(g) Question: How do we know this - perhaps they can whisper!
(h) Answer: "Say to them" - as a man speaking to his friend.
(i) (Abaye): If there are 2 (or more) Kohanim, the Chazan
calls to them "Kohanim"; if there is only 1 Kohen, he is
not called - "Say to them".
(j) (Rav Chisda): If the Chazan is a Kohen, he calls the
other Kohanim to bless; a Yisrael does not call the
Kohanim to bless - "Say to them" - the calling is
delegated to the Kohanim.
3) OTHER TEACHINGS OF R. YEHOSHUA BEN LEVI
1. The law is as Abaye, but not as Rav Chisda.
(k) (R. Yehoshua ben Levi): "They will put my name on Bnei
Yisrael, and I will bless them" - this shows that Hash-m
desires Birkas Kohanim.
(l) (R. Yehoshua ben Levi): Any Kohen that blesses is
blessed, and any Kohen that does not bless is not blessed
- "I will bless those that bless you".
(m) (R. Yehoshua ben Levi): Any Kohen that does not give
Birkas Kohanim transgresses 3 positive Mitzvos - "So you
will bless", "Say to them", and "They will put my name".
1. (Rav): We suspect that his mother was divorced or a
Chalutzah (which disqualifies him from Kehunah).
(n) (R. Yehoshua ben Levi): Any Kohen that does not ascend
(to the Duchan, where the Kohanim bless) during the
blessing of Retzei (in the repetition of the Amidah) may
not bless - "Aharon lifted his hands to the people and
blessed them, and descended from offering..."
2. Rav does not argue on R. Yehoshua ben Levi; we only
suspect his lineage if he never blesses.
1. Just as there he blesses amidst Temple service, also
Kohanim must ascend to bless during the blessing of
(o) Objection: R. Ami and Rav Asi blessed, even though they
did not ascend during Retzei!
(p) Answer: They started walking during Retzei, they just did
not arrive until after Retzei.
1. Support #1 (R. Oshiya): The Kohen is only forbidden
to bless if he did not even start walking during
2. Support #2 (Mishnah): A Chazan that is the only
Kohen in the synagogue, if he is sure that he can
bless and resume the repetition of the Amidah, he
i. Question: But he does not go (to the Duchan
3. The same applies by R. Ami and Rav Asi.
ii. Answer: It suffices that he moves a drop
(a) (R. Yehoshua ben Levi): The cup (to lead the blessing
after a meal) should only be given to one with a good eye
(i.e. he is happy when others have good fortune) - "One
with a good eye Yevorach (will be blessed), for he gave
from his bread to the poor".
4) A CONGREGATION OF KOHANIM
1. This may be read Yevarech (will bless).
(b) (R. Yehoshua ben Levi): Even birds recognize people with
an evil eye (i.e. resent the good fortune of others) -
"For naught the trap is set in the eyes of all fowl".
(c) (R. Yehoshua ben Levi): Anyone that benefits from a
stingy person transgresses a Lav - "Do not eat the bread
of one with an evil eye ... it is bitter to his soul".
1. (Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak): He also transgresses "Do
not desire" (at the end of the verse "Do not eat").
(d) (R. Yehoshua ben Levi): The beheaded calf (brought when a
murdered corpse is found) comes on account of stingy
people - "(The elders) say, 'We did not spill this man's
1. Question: Would we really suspect that the elders of
Beis Din killed him?!
2. Answer: Rather, they mean, don't think that he came
to us and we turned him away, that we saw him and
i. That he came to us and we turned him away -
ii. That we saw him and left him - without a group
to travel with.
(a) (Ada): If only Kohanim are in the synagogue, they all
bless Birkas Kohanim.
(b) Question: Whom do they bless?
(c) Answer (R. Zeira): Yisraelim in the fields.
(d) Question #1: But Aba, the son of Rav Minyamin bar Chiya
taught that people in back of the Kohanim are not
(e) Answer: Those that could have come to face the Kohanim
are not blessed; those that were unable to are blessed.
(f) Question #2: But Rav Simi taught, if only Kohanim are in
the synagogue, some bless and the others answer Amen!
(g) Answer: If we can leave 10 to answer, then others give
the blessing; if there are only 10 in all, all bless
(h) (Aba, the son of Rav Minyamin bar Chiya): People in back
of the Kohanim are not blessed!
(i) The following 2 laws are obvious.
1. A short person in back of a tall person is blessed.
(j) Question: Does an (other) barrier block the blessing?
2. The Aron is not a barrier that inhibits those behind
it from receiving the blessing.
(k) Answer: No - R. Yehoshua ben Levi taught, even an iron
wall does not intervene between Yisrael and Hash-m.
(l) Question: Do people on the side receive the blessing?
(m) Answer (Aba Mar bar Rav Ashi - Mishnah): If one intended
to sprinkle (water sanctified with ashes of the red
heifer) on something in front of him, and it sprinkled on
something in back of him, or vice-versa, the sprinkling