Sunday, November 28th 2021   |

Priestliness

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Maimonides stipulates six requirements for the ritual of Birkat Kohanim (the Priestly Blessing: “May God bless you and keep you…”).

The Blessing must be said…

standing up. We must stand up for what is right… taking even unpopular positions when that is the right thing to do.

with raised hands. We must not just say the right thing… we act on our principles. We take matters into our own hands. We extend our hands to those in need of support and understanding.

…in Hebrew. Hebrew is the key to Jewish knowledge, Jewish piety, Jewish national aspirations. We strive to express ourselves in an authentically Jewish idiom.

…with Priest and community facing each other. We find blessing by belonging to a community… a People. We conduct ourselves as if that community is standing right in front of us… counting on us for blessing.

in a loud voice. Volume alone is no blessing. Using one’s personal gifts to further worthy causes… to speak out loud and clear for justice… in the service of God and of others… That is something worth shouting about.

invoking God’s Name. Only by sincerely calling upon God will we develop a defining, demonstrable, genuine faith… an authentic spiritual life.

The Kohen’s real blessing is to embody the priestly mission of every Jew.

(Rabbi Joseph H. Prouser is the rabbi of Temple Emanuel of North Jersey and the former National Chaplain of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting.)

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