The priestly Blessing
Speak to Aharon and his sons as follows: Thus shall you bless the Children of Israel…May
The priestly blessing speaks to three layers of blessing. The first — blessing and keeping — refers to the possessions that require safeguarding; the blessing alone without protection not be sufficient — they must remain in our possession to prove to be a true blessing. This is the blessing of prosperity and material possessions.
But there is more to life than prosperity and comfort — these alone leave a soul unsatisfied. The next blessing showers upon us
Finally, there is one more layer of blessing. Material and spiritual blessings have already been pronounced. The final blessing — the crown of all three — is
The “Countenance” of
This, in turn, will lead to peace and harmonious accord. In the words of Rav Hirsch, “Every breath drawn by an individual who truly serves
When these blessings were recited in the Sanctuary, they were merged into one sentence, rather than three separate pronouncements followed by a congregational “amen.” In the Sanctuary, no “amen” was recited at all. Instead, the people pronounced “Blessed be the Name of His glorious Kingship for eternity.” Additionally, the Kohanim held their hands over their heads instead of at shoulder level, as they would do when blessing a congregation outside of the Temple.
All of these differences express the universal and far-reaching blessing emanating from the Sanctuary. “Amen” is an expression of personal acceptance and taking to heart. If “amen” were to be recited by only the fraction of the people standing in the Sanctuary at the time of the blessing, the blessing would be limited in its reach. Instead of saying “amen” and acting as recipients of the blessing, the people present are considered as if they pronounced the blessing along with the Kohanim. In this manner they are preserving the character of the blessing for the entire community.
- Sources: Commentary, Bamidbar 6:23-26