Shabbat Shalom: Sharing words of blessing

Jun 11, 2024 | Article

By: Michelle Ruby
Director of Israel Teen Emissaries and Education

This week’s Torah portion, Nasso, has one of the most recognizable blessings in all the Torah. In this portion, we find the Birkat Kohanim, the Priestly Benediction that is given to the people as a way of transmitting G-d’s blessing to each person. There are 3 very distinct parts to this blessing.

It begins, May G-d bless you and keep you, which allows us to be conduits to transmit blessing to another person. It gives us the ability to share our hope for the individual and participate in ensuring their welfare.

The second line, May G-d cause the divine light to shine upon you and be gracious to you, implies that we are the light in this world and our job is to bring it to others as well as shine a spotlight on those we are blessing and express gratitude for what they offer us.

The last line reads, May G-d turn toward you, and grant you peace. This evokes an image of G-d turning toward someone in that moment to allow a sense of peace and wholeness to fall over them. This is, in and of itself, a blessing—but the idea of feeling at peace and whole is something most of us work toward our entire lives. This time of blessing allows us to offer our help in achieving that feeling for someone and to be a part of their journey, no matter where they are along the path.

Anyone can recite these words to a person of their choosing at any time and in any location. You don’t have to be clergy, a Torah Scholar or an expert in Hebrew to use these words. It is meant for each of us to be able to share words of blessing with someone we care about and in doing so, provides us with a sense of blessing as well. We get to give and receive as we transmit these ancient words. It is not often we have the opportunity to be in both roles simultaneously, yet these are words that allow us to bless and be blessed. What a beautiful way to celebrate a life-cycle event, end a service, or bless your children at the Shabbat table. I hope that however you choose to share blessings, shine your light in the world and you are able to use these words of Torah with those around you.

Please email Michelle Ruby at with questions or comments.