This week’s parasha, Naso, contains the Priestly Blessing (Birkat HaKohanim). This brief liturgical text, a mere 15 words in Hebrew, is quite possibly the oldest text in continuous contemporary use–approximately 2,700 years old. At CBI we routinely recite these words to our children as they stand under community tallit – so that they may receive the power of this ancient blessing:
The LORD said to Moses,
“Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
“May the Holy One bless you and keep you; May the Holy One make their face shine upon you and be gracious to you; May the Holy One turn their face toward you and give you peace.”
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, z”l explains that G-d’s face shining upon you means may G-d’s presence be evident in you. May G-d leave a visible trace of divinity on the face you show others. Wow!
I am reminded of the Hindu greeting, Namasté. One of the most common translations of Namasté is “The Divine within me sees and bows to the Divine within you.”
I wonder what the world would be like if we all dwelled more routinely in this place–where we receive the Priestly Blessing, or embody the intention of Namasté, and with it radiate the G-d spark within us. Similarly we would clearly see the place of light and love in others.
In our morning prayers we chant Elohai Neshama - a prayer which reminds us of the purity of our souls. Each of us is pulsing with this pure light of love. Do we notice it within our fellow? Sometimes our vision is obscured and we cannot see clearly. Sometimes we are too busy to notice. Sometimes, we forget this very place of purity within ourselves.
And so we bless each other, and we receive blessingsm to remind ourselves. The Priestly Blessing is good medicine and it is at our fingertips. The world is in desperate need of more blessing, more light, more love. We are the conduit for blessing. We have the formula. We need this blessing not when the road is smooth and the scenery sublime. We need this blessing for the bumps and unexpected twists in the road. We need these words when we are driving through dangerous and unknown territory.
May we see the light of the Holy One on the face of each other. May we be at peace. Ken Yehi Ratzon. May it be so.