Once upon a time
Kedusha had just been recited in shul and it was time to prepare for birkas kohanim.
Lior Levi turned to his best friend Koby Cohen.
“OK. Time for me to wash your hands”.
Koby smiled and began moving along the aisle toward the washing station. Suddenly he stopped.
“What’s wrong” asked Lior?
“Mr. Goldberg is still praying shmoneh esreh, and he’s blocking the aisle. It’s forbidden to walk right in front of someone when they are praying.”
Lior shook his head. “It’s the only way to get to the washing station. What other choice do we have?”
The boys didn’t know what to do.
Q: What should the boys do?
A: The answer is different for each of them! We are usually not allowed to walk right in front to of someone who is praying, but an exception is made for a Kohen because he needs to perform the mitzvah of birkas kohanim (Eishel Avraham 102). The Levi however, does not actually have a mitzvah to wash the Kohen’s hands. It is desirable that a Levi wash the Kohen’s hands but it is not required. If no Levi is available a bechor can do the job, and if no bechor is available then the Kohen can wash his own hands. Koby should walk on, but Lior should not walk in front of Mr. Goldberg.
Q: What is the connection between our story and the parasha?
A: Parashas Korach teaches the need for Leviim to be happy with their role in serving Kohanim. Lior is content with this role as a Levi and is excited to serve Koby. If only Korach had been as happy to serve Aharon!
(Written by Josh and Tammy Kruger, in collaboration with Rabbi Yehoshua Pfeffer of the Institute for Dayanim, and based on the following article by Rabbi Pfeffer: http://www.dinonline.org/2011/06/23/the-levite-task-of-washing-kohanims-hands)