Parshat וזאת הברכה Devarim 33:11 – In What Way is the Cohen Invalid?   

Deuteronomy 33:11 –May the Lord bless His army (chelo) and favorably accept the work of his hands;

Gemora Kiddushin (66b) A Cohen who is the son of a divorcee or a chalutzah (root = ch’l’tz) who performed the [temple] service anyway, the service is still valid. From whence do we know this? Abuha d’Shmuel says it is understood from the verse “May the Lord bless His army”….even the profane (root = ch’l) amongst them will be accepted.

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #35:

It is not clear how a connection can be made between the word “profane” (root=ch’l) and the word “his army” (chelo). It apparently seems astonishing. It appears perhaps that our sages were carefully analyzing the word “army” as indicating strength and force, specifically relating to human strength. This is shown in Proverbs 31:3, “do not give your strength to women”.

Yet here in this verse, Moshe is blessing his descendants saying that God should accept the work of their hands. The word “accept” implies some prior imperfection or blemish perhaps because of some sin. A Cohen who is the son of a divorcee or a chalutzah, even though he was born [conceived] through sin, the linkage to his forefathers is not lost because of this sin. He is still the son of a Cohen, and the sin that happened is in the past.

Therefore, for these reasons, it is apparent that even the work [offering] of this invalidated Cohen, the son of a divorcee or a chalutzah is still accepted. It is clear that such a Cohen who performed the service in the temple, the service is kosher. Even though from a personal point of view, he is invalid; nevertheless he is still a Cohen and a descendant of Cohanim. This shows that the phraseology in our verse is exactly perfect. “God should bless His ‘chelo’”, even the imperfect ones.

It is also certainly clear that this law applies only after the fact. For example, in the middle of his performing the service, it becomes known that he is a son of a divorcee or a chalutzah. However, if it were known ahead of time, it would not be appropriate to have such a Cohen perform the service because it would not be appropriate for the honor of the temple.

Editor’s Note: it is amazing that the rabbis derive the meaning of this verse to be “God should bless is ritually invalid ones” rather than the simple meaning of “God should bless his army”. The Torah Temimah is merely explaining this gemora in more detail.



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