I believe that the most powerful thing in the universe is language. Our Torah says that language is so powerful it even has the ability to create the universe itself. The Framers of the U.S. Constitution enshrined language as the very first, and perhaps most important law of our land. Every place that values the spoken or written word knows that it can give rise to revolution and unite the people. In the Jewish community today, we use language to bless people, to bless moments, and to bless spaces.
In this week’s Torah portion, Naso, we read one of the most important blessings in Judaism, the Priestly Blessing (Numbers 6:23-27):
Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
“May Adonai bless you and protect you.
May Adonai’s face shine on you and be gracious to you.
May Adonai’s face turn toward you and grant you peace.”’
Let them put My name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.
These are the words we use at every simcha, every happy occasion, at home on Friday nights, and maybe these are even the last words we speak to our children before we lay them down to sleep. When we bless one another with these words, the words of our siddur, or any of the words of our soul, we strengthen the bonds of love and connection between those who recite and those who receive the blessing. A blessing is a simple and powerful way that we harness the power of God to create and build the most important structure: community.
Personally, I want to thank all of you for all the blessings you have showered upon Rabbi Rachael, Zohara, and me. Your prayers, your calls, your emails, your gifts, your food deliveries have warmed our heart and have truly made our home a place filled with God’s presence.
I hope that this Shabbat, and in the many days, weeks, and months that follow, you will continue to extend your blessings to all who need our support.