A Prayer for Peace

The Birkat Kohanim (Priestly blessing) is publicly recited outside of the land of Israel on the major holidays while in the land of Israel it is publicly recited every day as well.

The blessing is found in Parshat Naso (Bamidbar 6:24-26) and is made up of three units:

1.”Yivarechecha HaShem VeYishmerecha”, May God bless you and protect you.

2. “Ya’er HaShem Panav Eilecha Viychuneka”, May God make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.

3. “Yisa HaShem Panav Eilecha Viyasem Lecha Shalom”, May God lift up His face upon you and give you peace.

Nehama Leibowitz brings different opinions to help us understand what Birkat Kohanim is all about:

The first section- “May God bless you” according to Rashi refers to your material goods. The words “and protect you” refer to the fact that not only should you have these material goods, but plunderers should not take them away.

HaAmek Davar adds that this blessing can mean different things for different people. For a student of Torah, their success would be in their Torah study. For a business person their success would be in business” A Torah scholar should be protected from becoming too high on himself, a businessperson should make sure that his wealth doesn’t become a stumbling block for him.

The second section, “May God make His face shine upon you” is described by Bamidbar Raba 11:6 as the light of Torah. God should enlighten your eyes and heart in Torah and grant you children learned in Torah (In Mishlei the Torah is compared to light). The third section “May God lift His face upon you and give you peace” goes beyond the material and the spiritual. In the end peace is the most important thing.

Let’s hope and pray that God will bless us with our material and spiritual desires and may there be peace in the land of Israel and throughout the world!