“HaShem told Aaron: Behold I have given you the charge of My gift [offerings]. I have thus given you all the holy things of the children of Israel for distinction, and as an eternal portion for your sons”. (Bamidbar, 18:8)
From the Rashi’s commentary:
Behold I have given you: with joy. It [the word “behold”] is an expression of joy, as in “Behold, he is coming forth toward you, and when he sees you, he will rejoice in his heart” (Exod. 4:14). This may be compared to a king who gave a field to his friend but did not write nor sign [a deed], and did not record it in court. A person came and contested [his ownership] of the field. The king said to him: [It seems that] anyone may come and contest your rights. Behold, I will write and sign [a deed] for you, and record it in court. Here, too, since Korah came and made a claim against Aaron regarding the kehunah, Scripture comes and gives him twenty-four ‘gifts’ of kehunah as an everlasting covenant [which is referred to as “the covenant] of salt”. This is why this section is placed here [after the rebellion of Korah]. — [Sifrei Korach 18, 19]
The gifts allowed the Kohanim to focus on their role of working in the Beit Ha’Mikdash without worrying about earning a living. Even today there are still many reminders of these gifts and the special role of the Kohanim play, such as:
- separating challah when baking bread.
- the blessing of the Kohanim.
- the various honours that we give to Kohanim such as the first aliya to the Torah and leading the birkat hamazon (grace after meal).