Send to Friend  Bookmark  Print

Priestly Benediction

September, 2012

The priestly benediction is found in the Torah (Numbers 6:24-26) and consists of three blessings, which is why it's sometimes known as the "threefold blessing." On holidays like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, members of synagogues who are part of the priestly class (cohenim) recite the blessing for the congregation, often with their prayer shawls (tallitot) over their heads and their hands spread in the ancient sign of the Jewish priests (made famous by Spock on Star Trek).

Some synagogues have the custom of saying the blessing each Shabbat; it may be led by clergy, by a member of the congregation, or collectively. Some congregations say "amen" after each line, as is customary after most blessings, while others say the traditional response instead, "kein y'hee ra-tzon."

At a bar or bat mitzvah, some synagogues have the custom of directing the blessing at the child. Sometimes, a member of the clergy will place their hands on the bat or bar mitzvah's head or shoulder sand say the blessing to them, adding a few personal words as well. In other congregations, parents are invited to say the blessing to their child. When the blessing is said quietly or more privately, to the bar or bat mitzvah child, the congregation typically does not say "amen" or "kein y'hee ra-tzon" at the end of each line (usually because they are out of earshot).

Y'var-ekh'cha A-do-nai v'yeesh'm'recha:
Ya-eir A-do-nai pa-nav ei-ley-cha vee-chu-nei-cha:
Yee-sa A-do-nai pa-nav ei-lay-cha v'ya-sem l'cha sha-lom:
                    kein y'hee ra-tzon / amen

May the Lord bless you and protect you:
May the Lord show you kindness and be gracious to you:
May the Lord bestow favor upon you and grant you peace:
                    May this be God's will / amen
(A traditional translation.)

May God bless you and guard you:
May the light of God shine upon you, and may God be gracious to you:
May the presence of God be with you and give you peace:
                    May it be so / amen
(An alternative translation.)

Practice on your own with the audio:

And download our Priestly Benediction or Threefold Blessing (pdf), with the English, Hebrew and transliteration for the blessing.

Hebrew for "Head of the Year," the Jewish New Year. With Yom Kippur, known as the High Holy Days. Hebrew for "son of the commandments." In modern Jewish practice, Jewish boys come of age at 13. When a boy comes of age, he is officially a bar mitzvah and considered an adult. The term is commonly used as a short-hand for the bar mitzvah's coming-of-age ceremony and/or celebration. The female equivalent is "bat mitzvah." Hebrew for "daughter of the commandments." In modern Jewish practice, Jewish girls come of age at 12 or 13. When a girl comes of age, she is officially a bat mitzvah and considered an adult. The term is commonly used as a short-hand for the bat mitzvah's coming-of-age ceremony and/or celebration. The male equivalent is "bar mitzvah." Hebrew for "Day of Atonement," the final of ten Days of Awe that begin with Rosh Hashanah. Occurs during the fall and is marked by a 24-hour fast. One of the most important Jewish holidays. Plural form of "tallit," Hebrew for "prayer shawl," a ritual item that is worn and has knotted fringes (tzitzit) attached to the four corners. The Jewish Sabbath, from sunset on Friday to nightfall on Saturday. The first five books of the Hebrew Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), or the scroll that contains them.
InterfaithFamily

InterfaithFamily is the premier resource supporting interfaith couples exploring Jewish life and inclusive Jewish communities. We offer educational content; connections to welcoming organizations, professionals and programs; resources and trainings for organizations, clergy and other program providers; and our new InterfaithFamily/Your Community initiative providing coordinated comprehensive offerings in local communities.

If you have suggestions, please contact network@interfaithfamily.com.

Send to Friend  Bookmark  Print

Welcome to InterfaithFamily!

We depend on readers like you to support the work we do online and in the community.