There are three verses of Torah that I recite more regularly than most any others; they are the verses of Birkat Cohanim, the Priestly Blessing. These fifteen Hebrew words comprise a very special blessing that I offer to my children every Shabbat; to children who come to the bimah for their birthday blessing; to every bar or bat mitzvah and every confirmand; to couples who stand under the huppah. It’s not just a “go to” blessing; its words are powerful reminders of God’s presence in our world.
These are the familiar words of Birkat Cohanim, the Priestly Blessing:
May God bless you and keep you;
May God’s face look kindly upon you and be good to you;
May God reach out to you bestowing upon you blessings of love, joy, and peace.
My translation is loose, however, using my voice and hands to transmit God’s blessing upon someone is powerful, and is one of the greatest blessings that I experience as well.
As a rabbi, I am often privileged to offer this blessing, however, this privilege is not reserved for a rabbi only.
Judaism places the power to bless in your hands. You can use these words or words from your heart to bless another person when the moment presents itself. You can bless your children with these words as many families do at the Shabbat table on Friday night. It may be one thing to receive the blessing; however, it is pretty special to give it as well.
Giving and receiving blessings is a great gift that has been given to us. Let’s be mindful to share words of blessing with one another, to be in the moment when we do, and never take for granted the power bestowed in each of us to offer blessing.