Rabbi Adir Glick began his tenure at Temple Har Zion in August, 2015.
One of my favorite moments in our services is when at the end we chant in Hebrew and English the priestly blessing. I look and I see members of the congregation putting their arms around each other, and standing still, waiting, even receptive. We know what this moment is about, there is a clarity to it – this is about a blessing.
Even though it is not a traditional way to end a service, it brings together the purpose of the service. What we are doing here. The words of the blessing, the priestly blessing that we read in our parashah tomorrow, Naso, are not what we would expect.
Whenever we have a class Shabbat bringing together our religious school children, and we instruct the parents to bless their children, the words of our ancient priestly blessing are a little hard to take in. The parents have a moment of ‘how do we say the words?’ It is easier to whisper our own words at the end and kiss our children on the head.
Yet the words express all there is to blessing.
May God bless you and watch over you.
May God illuminate His face towards you and be gracious, kind to you.
May God turn His face to You and grant you peace.
It is a blessing that our loved ones be watched over and blessed, that God’s light and kindness give joy and light to their steps, that peace descend and fill us all.
Earlier in the parashah, we have the curious case of the Nazir. The Nazir, the Nazirite, was someone in Biblical times who took a vow not to drink grape juice or wine or let their hair grow, and to devote themselves to spiritual matters. It was about taking some of the luxury of life aside, good drink, how we look, and letting it take backstage as the Nazir focused on what was most important and full of meaning.
It did not last forever. The vow was one month long and at the end, there was a ritual to end it. Then you were to return to drink and nice hair. But perhaps, there would be other times.
Last week, there were a few hours when I was on the internet and I came across this very moving story from I believe ‘America’s Got Talent’, about a woman, 30 years old who performed an original song. She was battling cancer and still was. In fact, you found out later she had just a 2% chance of survival. She was shining. She sang this song about “It’s ok to be lost sometimes, it’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok.” The judges were so moved. Everyone was so moved. I found out she passed away not long after.
But this is what life should be about, blessing each other, being there for each other. Reminding each other of what it’s all about. Here it was in a very particular way. Here were celebrities, living their own complicated lives, who were weeping hearing about this person with 2% chance of surviving singing, “it’s ok” and saying “Don’t wait until it’s not hard to be happy.”
Life has got so many ups and downs and all arounds. What elevates all of us, amidst all of it, is our ability to bless each other. We realize when we bless each other, in the myriad of ways human beings do, and it doesn’t matter who you are, celebrity or regular person, there are infinite ways of doing it. It’s what makes it all worth it. We are reminded this is what it’s all about. It’s about other people, it’s about bringing God’s presence into the world. Living up to our human possibility.
We can’t do it all the time, we should, but if we can devote some time every week to giving a blessing to another person, forgetting the rest for a moment, we too are part of the chain of light coming from God’s face blessing and giving kindness in our world.