Do Rabbis' Blessings Work?

Moshe Ben-Chaim

Reader: What is your opinion on the value of getting a bracha from a "big" Rabbi?

Rabbi: Only God can change your fate. But someone else can pray for you, and God might answer him, for his sake.

Rabbi Israel Chait said the main prayer is of the person in need.

Reader: Yes clearly but is there any special power to the prayer/blessing of a Rav? I'm guessing the merit of someone active in Talmud Torah in mitzvos is more than others and therefore they have a higher likelihood of their prayers being granted.

Rabbi: Agreed, his "prayers" will be answered more, as he will pray for what is in line with Torah, while others on a lower level must, by definition, be praying for lesser matters, and may not be answered. But no one has powers to "bless." 

"Prayer" is the proper act.

Reader: What makes you say no one has powers to bless? There is a widespread custom to bless children before kiddush on Shabbos night. Kohanim bless us yomtov days and in Israel every morning. At weddings parents bless their children before they go the chuppah. There must many other examples that I can't think of right now.

Rabbi: Jacob was a prophet. No one today is. When his wife asked him to give her children, he became angry and said, "Am I in God's place, that I withheld children from you?" He didn't have the ability to bless her, so no one does today.

Kohanim "recite" the blessing, but the verse says, "Place My name on the Jews and I (God) will bless them." The Kohanim did not "cause" the blessings, as God says clearly. They were needed to express God's will, not that they effectuated anything.

By analyzing at the dynamics between the Jews and the priests, perhaps their relationship affords some insight. The priests receive gifts from the Jews. The priests also serve in the Temple. The Jews do not. What attitude might be generated from such a relationship where one party receives gifts from the other, and where they also have exclusive rights to Temple service, not granted to Jews? Would the Jew feel justified in his resentment, because he toils for his possessions while the priests receive them from the Jew for free? The Jew might also resent the priests' “closer” proximity to God, since they alone serve in the Temple. 

Perhaps this is exactly what the blessings address. They preempt the strife, which might occur based on the Jews’ resentment of priestly gifts, and the exclusion of the Jew from Temple service. I suggest that precisely to rid Jewish society of such resentment, God commanded the priests publicly bless the Jews in these two areas - monetary needs, and that God pays attention to Jews, the desired result of prayer. By doing so, any ill feelings will be addressed before they become an issue. See my article:

All other cases, at shabbos or weddings, people merely express their wishes for their children and hope God responds. But this in no way causes anything.