Raise Your Hands: A Sure Blessing

Over the holiday we did the Priestly blessing in synagogue that Adina and I give our children. This blessing that we say every Shabbat and Holiday at home comes from Naso, this week’s Torah portion. There we read:

And the Lord spoke to Moshe, saying: ‘Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying: On this wise you shall bless the children of Israel; you shall say to them: The Lord bless you, and keep you. The Lord make God’s face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up God’s countenance upon you, and give you peace. ( Numbers 6:22-26)

While I usually focus on the intimacy of touching my children while giving them a blessing, this week at synagogue I got to thinking about the nature of  the priests having their arms held up to bless us.

Immediately my head flashed to the iconic Sure Deodorant Raise Your Hand commercials from the 198o’s.

They were encouraging people to buy their project so they could raise their arms and be sure that they would be showing signs of perspiration. But with the image of the Statue of Liberty mixed into the commercial the idea of certitude and conviction got mixed into the virtue of buying their product.  Be that from a priest to the nation or from a parent to a child, what are we sure about when we give someone a blessing ?

We are clearly not sure if God’s face will shine upon them. We have no idea if God will be gracious or lift up God’s face to them. And we have no idea if they will live a life of  peace. Within today’s complexity we cannot even say with surety if there is a God. All we can say is that we are sure that we want to communicate blessing. When it comes to my community and my children I desperately want to share any blessing I have to give.  About that I am sure.

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