G-d Bless You! The Source of All Blessing!

By Yossy Goldman

“A blessing on your head, mazel tovmazel tov,” said the Bobba Tzeitel in Tevye’s dream in Fiddler on the Roof. And doting grandparents do indeed bestow beautiful blessings upon their loved ones.But in the Torah reading, G‑d instructs the priests, “This is how you shall bless the children of Israel,”1 and then goes on to prescribe the Priestly Blessings which to this day, the Kohanim, members of the priestly tribe, confer upon our congregations.

Yivorechecha Hashem: May G‑d bless you and protect you.
Yaer Hashem: May G‑d cause His countenance to shine upon you and give you grace.
Yisa Hashem: May G‑d raise His countenance towards you and grant you peace.2

The Source of All Blessing

The Kohanim pronounce these blessings, but where do they come from? From G‑d. Each of the three phrases states clearly that G‑d Almighty is doing the blessing here; the Kohanim are merely His emissaries, His agents on earth, the conduit by which these heavenly blessings are transmitted to the people.

It’s important to understand and appreciate that only G‑d really knows how to bless us, and only He knows what we truly need in our lives at any given time.

We often hear, “I wish you everything you wish for yourself.”

Do you have any idea what people wish for themselves? I’m not only talking about forbidden fantasies, but all kinds of wishful scenarios, ambitious dreams and desires that may be dangerous, inappropriate, unhealthy, and unwise.

Do people really know what is best for them? Definitely not!

Who blesses us? G‑d, Who knows us better than we know ourselves, and Who knows what is really best for us.

The Three Stages of Blessing

According to Rashi and other Biblical commentators, the sequence of these blessings is quite deliberate. The first blessing is that G‑d will grant you wealth. Now that you have acquired wealth, you need the blessing of G‑d’s security and protection to look after it for you.

May G‑d bless you and protect you.

And seeing as the wealthy are not always well-liked by their communities, the very next blessing is that G‑d will be gracious to you; meaning that He will grant you what we call in Hebrew-Yiddish, chein—grace, charm, or charisma. People will warm to you and want to be in your company.

May G‑d cause His countenance to shine upon you and give you grace.

And the final blessing is shalom, peace. Because the more wealth you accumulate, the more you still want. “He who has 100, wants 200,”3 say the sages. “And he who has 200, wants 400.” It is never-ending. Today’s billionaires are competing against each other as to who will amass more billions. That causes lots of stress and anxiety—anything but inner peace. So G‑d promises us shalom, peace and contentment.

May G‑d raise His countenance towards you and grant you peace.

A Blessed Life

And now, for my personal favorite insight into the Priestly Blessings. Unfortunately, I cannot recall the source, but the idea has remained with me.

These three blessings are age-related and refer to the three stages of life we all experience: youth, mid-life, and seniority.

When we are children, the single most important thing we need to develop as healthy and stable human beings is security. When parents give love, time, and attention to their young children, they grow up feeling secure and wholesome.

May G‑d bless you and protect you.

Then, in mid-life, when we are looking for a marriage partner, friends, or people to do business with, the single most important thing we need is chein, to find favor in other people’s eyes, to be popular, or at least likeable.

May G‑d cause His countenance to shine upon you and give you grace.

Finally, in our senior years, when we are getting older and perhaps a little tired, all we want is a little peace and quiet, shalom. It’s wonderful to have the grandchildren over, right? And isn’t it also wonderful when they go home?

May G‑d raise His countenance towards you and grant you peace.

How perfect and appropriate are these blessings! Indeed, we may rely on G‑d to give us the very best blessings we need. And a hearty Amen to them all.

FOOTNOTES

3.

Kohelet Rabbah 1:34.

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