Torah reading- Numbers ch 4:21 – ch 7
Haftarah reading- Judges 13: 2- 25
We are treated to a range of ideas this week. We learn the ritual a woman accused of adultery by her jealous husband has to undergo. We learn the laws of being a Nazir, and in the haftarah we read the story of a pragmatic woman speaking with an angel in a field. The woman and her husband find out that they will have a child who is to be raised as a Nazir, and then the angel leaves in a flame to heaven. That’s quite a tete a tete to have in a field!
Nestled among the stories is a beautiful blessing. Gd commands Aaron and his sons to bless the children of Israel with these words:
May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord shine His face upon you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord turn His face toward you and may He grant you peace.
Each short sentence includes two blessings. In Hebrew the first verse is only 3 words. The verses expand to 5 and then 7 words- suggesting that Gd’s blessings over us also expand. We recite this blessing in our prayers. On holidays the Kohanim bless the congregation with these words. Many parents use this to bless their children every Friday night.
In 1979 archeologists discovered two silver scrolls in Jerusalem,at Ketef Hinnom. They were from the 6th or 7th C BCE and contained portions of the priestly blessing. The tiny silver scrolls, which are over 2,600 years old, were so delicate it took three years to unroll them.
Interestingly the prayer is said in the singular- whether a parent is blessing one child or a kohen is blessing an entire congregation. That is because the Jews are one people. To receive the blessing we have to behave as a unified people, hopefully striving to make the world a better place.
Enjoy your blessings, Laya