Have you ever noticed the Rabbi looking for a Cohen to call up to the Torah first? Or, perhaps, you might have noticed that at the grace after meals, the Cohen is honored with leading the service. The list goes on, as there are many times in Jewish custom and practice, that we are instructed to honor the Cohen.

 Now just what is a Cohen? Literally it translates as 'priest'. The descendants of Aron, brother of Moses, were crowned with this duty shortly after we left Egypt, and have kept it to this day. 

  Though receiving much honor from the the community, the Cohanim (plural for Cohen) have many duties to the community as well. They were the ones responsible for running the Holy Temple, and in general caring for the many spiritual needs of the Jewish people. One of their duties was to bless the Jewish people daily in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Nowadays this blessing is recited by the Cohanim on certain holidays.

 What is this blessing? 'May G‑d bless you and guard you. May G‑d shine His countenance upon you and be gracious to you. May G‑d turn His countenance toward you and grant you peace.' The source of this blessing is in this week's Torah portion.

Notice the last words of the blessing: 'May G‑d turn His countenance toward you and grant you peace'. The last word carries much wait in Jewish thought. The way we end a blessing, prayer or even a simple discussion is supposed to be carefully chosen.

 It is no coincidence therefore, that the priestly blessing ends with the blessing of peace. The Talmud teaches that the entire Torah was given to bring peace to the world.

 Peace can be understood in two fundamentally different ways. One way is brushing over differences and conflict. Trying to get rid of as many differences as possible, ignoring the conflict of interests we might have with others, and attempting to coexist . 

 But peace can be much deeper than that. Peace can mean appreciating the differences that other might have. Instead of attempting to overlook a perceived negative quality in a friend or co-worker, we could try and appreciate the beauty their own perspective on life might really have. 

Rabbi Avrohom