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Naso, Numbers 4:21−7:89
Some try to "outsource" their Judaism, but this approach has severe limits.
This week's parashah, Naso, includes one of Judaism's most time-honored liturgical texts, the priestly blessing: "May Adonai bless you and keep you May Adonai cause His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you May Adonai turn His face towards you, and grant you peace" (Numbers 6:24-26). These three short, beautiful verses, which God commanded Aaron and his sons to use to bless the Jewish people with the gift of God's presence, indeed God's face, are deeply ingrained in Jewish cultural memory. They also pose some important questions about the balance between the value of personal participation and the role intermediaries play in religious life. An Old Blessing The verses of the priestly blessing are certainly among the oldest in continuous liturgical use. Archaeological evidence confirms their use even in the biblical period--their words were etched on silver scrolls found in tombs from the seventh century BCE. By the time of the Second Temple, their place in the ritual was confirmed as part of a series of blessings recited after the morning sacrifice (Mishnah Tamid 5:1), and, it is believed by many scholars to be one of the nuclei around which the current liturgical framework of the Amidah [the "standing" prayer] coalesced. Continue reading.
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