Every Friday evening, when we are having Shabbat dinner together and my (now grown) children join us, immediately after candle lighting I bless them as I have done since they were tiny. This is the blessing I say: “May God bless you and keep you! May God deal kindly and graciously with you! May God bestow favor upon you and grant you peace!” It is the blessing Aaron the High Priest used to bless Israel when the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, was dedicated to sacred service during the Israelites’ wandering in the wilderness, in this week’s Torah portion.
For our family it has always been a moment of deep love and connection to our family. But there is more. Our Torah portion concludes the blessing with these words (that we traditionally do not say when blessing our children),”Thus they shall link My name with the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”
This phrase reminds me that the Priestly Blessing is more than just an expression of love. As we recite this blessing that has been repeated for thousands of years, we are reminded that our family, Carla, me and our children, stand together in a sacred chain of connection that began at Sinai and continues to the present day.
We all are part of the shared history and the shared destiny of the Jewish people. All of us can be blessed. All of us can bless others. All of us can be a blessing.
~Rabbi Dean Kertesz