D'var Torah By Rabbi Steven Kushner for ReformJudaism.org
The Spirituality of Eye Contact
There are few texts from the Torah more ubiquitous, more universally invoked than Birkat Kohanim: the Priestly Benediction. We Jews use it all the time. At weddings. And bat mitzvahs. At preschool graduation ceremonies. At the Shabbat dinner table. Indeed, it has become an integral element of our liturgy incorporated into the conclusion of the Amidah as part of the Birkat Shalom, the prayer for peace. And within the non-Jewish world, the three-stanza blessing has come to be such a central part of the service that most worshipers presume it is indigenous to the Christian tradition. But it is not. It comes right from Parashat Naso (Numbers 6:24-26):
May the Eternal bless you and protect you!
May the Eternal's countenance shine upon you and be gracious unto you!
May the face of the Eternal lift up before you and grant you peace!
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