Nasso, Numbers 4:21-7:89; Parashat HaShavua for Shabbat, June 15, 2024

This Sunday is Father’s Day, which originated in Spokane, WA in 1909. For much of its history it was resisted by the public, because it was seen as a marketing opportunity more than a legitimate holiday. Nonetheless, or perhaps because of this, it has become part of the fabric of American life. Regardless, there is a connection, perhaps tenuous, between Father’s Day (and Mother’s Day) and this week’s Torah portion: the birkat kohanim or priestly blessing. “May God bless you and watch over you. May God show you kindness and grace. May God’s presence be upon you and grant you peace.” (Numbers 6:24 – 26) This is one of the oldest blessings in our tradition and was first recited here by Aaron, the High Priest, over all of Israel. It lives on in our lives today. In our synagogue we recite this blessing over the congregation on the High Holy Days, on Shabbat morning, and during special life cycle moments, like b’nai mitzvah and weddings. But perhaps the most beautiful use of this blessing is by parents over their children on Shabbat and holiday evenings. It can be an expression of parental love and hope as well as the power of holiness in our families. By blessing our children we teach them that each of us can be a klei kodesh, a sacred vessel or a channel that can bring sanctity and meaning into their lives.