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Steinsaltz

and instead he sprinkled it backward, or if he intended to sprinkle the water backward and instead he sprinkled it forward, even if the water lands on vessels that require purification, his sprinkling is invalid. However, if one intended to sprinkle the water forward and instead he sprinkled it forward to the sides, his sprinkling is valid. It is derived from here that one’s sides are considered as though they were in front of him.

§ Rava bar Rav Huna says: Once a Torah scroll has been opened, it is prohibited to converse, even about a matter of halakha. As it is stated: “And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and when he opened it, all the people stood up” (Nehemiah 8:5), and standing is referring to nothing other than silence, as it is stated: “And shall I wait, because they do not speak, because they stand still, and answer no more?” (Job 32:16). Rabbi Zeira said that Rav Ḥisda said: The prohibition against conversing is derived from here: “And the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law” (Nehemiah 8:3). They were not listening to any other voice.

And Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: Any priest who did not first wash his hands may not lift his hands to recite the Priestly Benediction; as it is stated: “Lift up [se’u] your hands in sanctity and bless the Lord” (Psalms 134:2), which teaches that before reciting the benediction one must sanctify his hands by washing them.

§ Rabbi Elazar ben Shammua was once asked by his disciples: To what do you attribute your longevity? He said to them: In all my days, I never made a shortcut [kappendarya] through a synagogue. Nor did I ever stride over the heads of the sacred people, i.e., I never stepped over people sitting in the study hall in order to reach my place, so as not to appear scornful of them. And I never lifted my hands for the Priestly Benediction without first reciting a blessing.

The Gemara asks: What blessing does the priests recite before the benediction? Rabbi Zeira says that Rav Ḥisda says: Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with the sanctity of Aaron and commanded us to bless His people, Israel, with love.

The Gemara continues: When the priest begins walking to the platform to recite the benediction, what does he say? The Gemara answers: May it be Your will, Lord our God, that this blessing with which You have commanded us to bless Your people, Israel, shall not contain any stumbling block or iniquity. And when the benediction has been completed, when he turns his face away from the congregation, what does he say? Rav Ḥisda instructed Rav Ukva and taught him that this is what he would say: Master of the Universe, we have performed that which You decreed upon us. Do unto us

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
אדם סלומון
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