The three-fold blessing known as Birkat HaKohane is found in Numbers: 6:24-26. The text is written in poetic form on three separate lines, unlike most of Torah which is written in paragraph form. The blessing was given to Aaron and his descendants to offer to the people. It was offered at the end of the Mishkan (the tabernacle that traveled with the Israelites in their wanderings through the desert) service and eventually in the Temple service each day.
Y'varech'cha Adonai v'yish'recha
Yaeir Adonai panav eilecha vichuneka
Yisa Adonai panav eilecha v'yasem l'cha shalom.
May Adonai bless you and keep you.
May Adonai make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you.
May Adonai turn His countenance unto you and grant you peace.
The Birkat HaKohane is offered at holidays, weddings and b’nai mitzvah ceremonies and in many congregations on Shabbat. When offering the blessing, the Kohane’s hands are lifted, the thumb is separated from the first finger and the second and third are separated so that the hand forms a shin. The shin is for Shaddai, the name of God meaning Almighty One. The shin is also found on tefillin and mezuzot.
The two thumbs touch. Often the two first fingers also touch forming a triangle. What might the triangle stand for?
1) Ahl Shlosha Devarim: Torah, Avodah, Gemilut Chasadim
2) For a wedding: Eesh/Eesha/Adonai: The yud from eesh and the hay from eesha spells ‘Yah’ – one of God’s names. For single parent family: hay with an apostrophe is used as an abbreviation for Adonai. For double sex parent families: double yuds are used as a way to write Adonai.
We say, “God bless you,” whenever someone sneezes. Think about that now. What does it mean to say, “God bless you” or “Bless you”?
How would you know if grace (as in graciousness) was in your life?
If you believed you could have access to a Divine blessing, for what would it be?
Why do you think the Birkat HaKohane mentioned peace?
Try to craft a blessing for someone you know.
It is interesting to note that this blessing was recognized on a tiny silver scroll dating back to the 7th century BCE. The artifact was found during a 1973 archeological excavation in Jerusalem. Also of interest, DNA sequencing has been able to identify descendants of Aaron, the Kohanim.