S.T.A.R. News & Events
Here are S.T.A.R.’s upcoming exciting events:
April 22, 2012
Get Your Wristbands Now
May 9th, 2012
S.T.A.R. Community Lag B’Omer Extravaganza at the Santa Monica Pier May 9th, 2012.
Come and join thousands of Jews from all kinds of background on the happiest time of the year.
Shabbat Parashat: Shemini
Shabbat Ends: 8:14pm
Chant Of Love
“Aharon raised his hands toward the people and blessed them.” (9:22)
One of the most awe-inspiring experiences is the Birkat HaKohanim, when a thousand-or-sokohanim bless the many thousands at the Western Wall in Jerusalemon the second day of Chol HaMo’ed Pesach and Succot.
Most of the time, prayer at the Wall is a segmented affair. This group starts as this one finishes, while yet another group is somewhere in the middle.
Apart from the daily moments of silence at the dawn’s break when everyone begins together the Silent Prayer of Eighteen Blessings, I can think of no other time when the whole of the Kotel is as unified as it is by Birkat HaKohanim.
The haunting chant of the Kohanic blessing evokes deep and powerful feelings in the heart of every Jew however religious he may be. It is a chant that echoes down the years. It is a living witness to the unbroken chain of Jewish tradition that links us to Sinai.
The first appearance of that chant is in this week’s Torah portion. Aharon completed his first day of service in the Sanctuary and he then blessed the people with great joy. Such was his desire to bless the people that G-d rewarded him and his descendents that they should bless the Jewish People thus throughout the generations.
The word for blessing in Hebrew, beracha, is connected to bereicha, which means a “pool.” Blessing is an overflowing pool that enriches and fills our lives.
In the time of the HolyTemple, when the kohanim would bless the people, they would raise their hands over their heads and make a space between the third and fourth fingers of hands. When they recited the blessing using the ineffable Name of G-d, the Shechina, the Divine Presence, would rest on their hands.
The kohanim to this day still cover their heads and hands with their prayer shawls when they recite the blessing.
But maybe we could also understand a different symbolism behind the covering of the hands of thekohen.
Our Sages teach us that blessing only descends on things that are hidden from the eye, that which the eye doesn’t see. For example, a farmer who starts to weigh his grain may pray that his crop will be large, but if he has already weighed it, he may no longer make such a request, for the size of the crop is already revealed to the eye. When the kohanim cover their hands they symbolize this idea that blessing descends only on that which is hidden from the eye.
Mind you, I wouldn’t recommend that because of this you give up checking your bank balance once in a while!
- Sources: Talmud Bavli Bava Metzia 42a, Mishna Berura, 128:98
Rabbi M. Weiss Rabbi Y. Sakhai
Em Habanim Congregation
Weekly Parashat Hashavua class with Rabbi Joshua Bittan on Wednesdays at 8:30pm for more info. visit www.emhabanim.com