News Briefs

  Nissan 17, 5773 , 28/03/13

What to Concentrate on during Priestly Blessing

If you are virtually attending the Priestly blessing service at the Western Wall via Kotel Cam live, you will know the blessing is being recited when you will see hundreds of Cohanim by the Wall wrapped and covered in their prayer shawls.

Here is the Priestly Blessing and interpretation:

May the LORD (YHWH) bless you and guard you -

יְבָרֶכְךָ יהוה, וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ

("Yebhārēkh-khā Adhōnāy weyishmerēkhā ...)

May the LORD make His face shed light upon you and be gracious unto you -

יָאֵר יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶּךָּ

("Yāʾēr Adhōnāy pānāw ēlekhā wiḥunnékkā ...)

May the LORD lift up His face unto you and give you peace -

יִשָּׂא יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם

("Yissā Adhōnāy pānāw ēlekhā wiyāsēm lekhā shālōm.") (Wikipedia)

What is the meaning of the blessings?

"The Lord bless you and protect you." Blessing in the Mosaic books always means material blessing:

So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today-to love the LORD your G-d and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul- then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.

The second priestly blessing is: May G-d "make His face shine on you," meaning, may His presence be evident in you. May He live a visible trace of His being on the face you show to others. How is that presence to be recognized? Not in severity, remoteness or austerity but in the gentle smile that speaks to what Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature." That is grace.

"May the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace." ' To make peace in the world we must be at peace with ourselves. To be at peace with ourselves we must know that we are unconditionally valued. That does not often happen. People value us for what we can give them. That is conditional value, what the sages called "love that is dependent on a cause". G-d values us unconditionally. We are here because He wanted us to be. Our very existence testifies to His love. Unlike others, G-d never gives
up on us. He rejects no one. He never loses faith, however many times we fail. When we fall, He lifts us. He believes in us more than we believe in ourselves.

The recognition that counts is our reflection in the eyes of G-d. He loves us for what we are and what we could become. He loves the good in us, not the successful or persuasive or charismatic. He ignores the image we try to project because He knows us from within. His is the voice within us that says, "With Me, you do not have to pretend. I know you. I knew you before you were born. I know you because I made you, and I made you because I need you - or more precisely, because the world needs you. There is a task only you can do. Now, therefore, be strong and do it. You need not seek praise; you shall not be deflected by criticism; for I will be with you every step of the way. When you feel most alone, that is when I will be closest." That is making eye-contact with G-d. It is the meaning of the third blessing: "May the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace."

An ancient midrash says:

The house of Israel said to the Holy One, blessed be He, "Lord of the universe, you order the priests to bless us? We need only your blessing. Look down from Your holy habitation and bless Your people." The Holy One, blessed be He, replied to them, "Though I ordered the priests to bless you, I will stand together with them and bless you."

It is not the priests who bless the people. Rather, it is through them that G-d blesses the people. (OU.org)

Other archived news briefs:Mar 28 2013, 08:43 AM, 3/28/2013