Sunday, April 12, 2009

Priestly blessing at the Western Wall - Passover, Israel

Every year in Hol HaMoed, thousands of people gather at the Western Wall in the ancient city of Jerusalem to hear the Priestly blessing, also known by its Hebrew name, Birkat HaKohanim. Watch this special and moving ceremony at the footage above. I'm sure that you will not forget these sights and sounds .

Birkat Hakohanim can only recited by the Kohens, who are decedents of Aaron and his sons. The Kohens were the high priests in the Sinai desert. Following God's commandment, Aaron and his sons blessed the Israelites with this powerful blessing that says:

The Lord bless thee and keep thee, The Lord make His face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace" (Book of Numbers, 6:24-26).

Since the six days war in 1967, in which the Western Wall was liberated by the state of Israel, it has become a tradition to make a pilgrimage to the Wall three times a year: Sukkot, Passover and Shavuot.

The blessing is considered by many to have a mystical power. Great Jewish scholars have explained that the power of the blessing derives from the explicit reference to one of God's sacred names. The blessing of the Kohanim is thus believed to provide divine protection. Many pieces of Jewish jewelry are inscribed with this blessing. This Star of David pendant, which is one of my favorite Jewish jewelry pieces, brings together two powerful blessings: Shema Yisrael and the initials of Birkat Hakohanim. You can get this beautiful pendant here.

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