Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Guarding our Light

Welcome to B'erot
Coming out of Shavuot was not easy for me. On Shavuot I felt so perfect with my goals in Torah and in life. It all seemed so simple and clear, until boom… the trials of the week days, all the distractions, the computer, the email the telephone… All the crazy things that happened that needed my attention. When do I ever have time to learn like in the “old days” when I was in my twenties studying at Michlala in Jerusalem? I must look ahead and count my blessings. The learning of my youth is still in me, with every step I take, as I answer my phone and my emails. Every stage in life has its meaning and opportunity for growth. Blessings need to be guarded so they won’t dissipate. 

The blessings of the Kohanim, in this week’s parasha, come to guard all of the light we received on Shavuot. These blessings help us bridge the lofty spiritual Shavuot experience with our mundane tasks in life. I use Birkat Kohanim (the Kohanim Blessing) often. Its words are so powerful to engender good energy and chase away darkness. I may even venture to say, it is a centerpiece of EmunaHealing.

With Blessings of the Torah and the Land,
Chana Bracha Siegelbaum

Click to read  Hidden Lessons from a Hidden Woman- Rebbetzin's commentary on Haftorat Naso

Parasha Meditation Naso
Bamidbar 4:21-7:89

This week’s Parasha is filled with spiritual healing. It includes the powerful Kohanim blessing with which Jewish parents bless their children Friday night. Giving and receiving blessings has great spiritual healing power. The Kohanim were chosen to be the channel for Hashem's healing blessings. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to come to the Beit Knesset and be blessed with the following blessing from Above:

ספר במדבר פרק ו
כד) יְבָרֶכְךָ הָשֵם וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ
כה) יָאֵר הָשֵם פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וִיחֻנֶּךָּ
כו) יִשָּׂא הָשֵם פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם
כז) וְשָׂמוּ אֶת שְׁמִי עַל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַאֲנִי אֲבָרֲכֵם

May Hashem bless you and keep you!
May Hashem shine his face upon you and be gracious to you!
May Hashem lift up His face upon you and give you peace!
They shall place my name upon the children of Israel and I will bless them.[1]

Notice that the Kohamin blessing is written in a perfect pyramid style. The first verse has three words, the second has five words and the third line has seven words. The middle word of each of these lines spell out “הָשֵם פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ” – “Hashem’s face upon you.” Pronouncing this blessing draws Hashem’s presence upon us. When reciting this blessing as part of our morning prayer, keep this in mind!

Kli Yakar notices that each of the three verses of blessing begins with the letter י – yud which has the numerical value of ten. When you spell out the letter Yud – י-ו-ד The numerical value of the inner (hidden) letters vav and dalet likewise add up to ten. This alludes to the fact that the Kohanim Blessing includes both ten revealed and ten hidden blessings. This twofold blessing affects both the physical and spiritual realm. A person, too, consists of ten physical and ten spiritual faculties. While the parents bestow his physical capacities, he receives his spiritual faculties directly from Hashem. The father bestows the following physical faculties (the white parts): 1.Sinews, 2. Bones, 3. Brain, 4. Nails, 5. White of eyes. The mother bestows the following physical faculties (the red parts): 1. Skin, 2. Flesh, 3. Blood, 4. Hair, 5. Pupil of the eye. G-d bestows the ten spiritual faculties: 1. Spirit, 2. Soul, 3. Facial features, 4. Vision of the eye, 5. Hearing of the ear, 6. Speech of the mouth, 7. Walking of the legs, 8. Da’at (knowledge), 9. Bina (understanding), 10. Sechel (intellect).

These ten physical and spiritual faculties are blessed by the Kohen when he lifts his ten fingers, in order that from each finger emanates the blessing on both the revealed and the hidden.

Kli Yakar continues and explains that the three sentences of Birkat Kohanim correspond to the three stages of the feminine development, 1. Daughter, 2. Sister, 3. Mother. “In the beginning Hashem called Israel “daughter”, afterwards he called her “sister” and in the end “mother.”[2] At first Israel is “Daughter,” which is below and the father above her, having dominion over her. This corresponds to “May Hashem bless you and guard you.” – For the spiritual sustenance of these blessings flow from Above. Becoming “Sister” is the notion of equality and being face to face. This corresponds to “May Hashem shine His face upon you…” Evolving to become “Mother,” is being elevated to a “superior position” – A Tzadik has dominion through his superior awe of G-d. This corresponds to “May Hashem lift up His face upon you” so to speak.[3]

Make yourself comfortable wherever you are sitting standing or walking. Breathe deeply and bow your head forward slightly to open yourself to be a vessel to receive the blessings. You have just opened yourself to receive the Torah on Sinai. So much light flowed downwards from Above on Shavuot.

Now we need proper vessels to keep this light and channel it into our daily day life. The Kohanim blessing which always is read the Shabbat following Shavuot bestows us with these spiritual vessels to hold all the lights. Visualize/recite the words: “:יְבָרֶכְךָ הָשֵם וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ” – “Hashem bless you and guard you.” Hashem will not only bless you but, moreover, guard you so that the blessings will keep. While focusing on these words imagine Hashem’s light flow downwards from heaven landing upon your head. Think about something specific in your life for which you need a lasting blessing and with humbly bowed head, make your request to Hashem.

 Now raise your head to upright position and visualize/recite the words: “:יָאֵר הָשֵם פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וִיחֻנֶּךָּ”– “May Hashem shine his face upon you and be gracious to you!” – Hashem will show His beaming smiling countenance to you! His presence will be at your side. Imagine Hashem’s light facing you, in front of you, feel it entering your eyes, nose and mouth with delicious warmth. Now visualize/recite: “:יִשָּׂא הָשֵם פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם” – “May Hashem lift up His face upon you and give you peace!” Feel at peace with yourself and your body. Feel at peace with your surroundings and imagine Hashem’s light emanating from below, softly caressing your feet, your ankles, calves and knees. Imagine the gentle light rising to your thighs, pelvis, stomach and torso, also from the back. Feel the light finally reaching your shoulders, neck and head, enveloping your entire being with soft serene peacefulness. Remain with this feeling as long as you want before opening your eyes and getting back to the chores of your day with renewed light and vigor.

The Kohanim Blessing is a powerful Spiritual healer. It is used to ameliorate difficult dreams. King Shlomo engraved the letters of Birkat Kohanim surrounding his bed.
The midrash learns this from Song of Songs: “Behold her is the bed of Shomo, sixty valiant ones of the valiant of Israel surrounding it.”[4] “…These are the sixty letters in the Kohanim blessing who are the mighty ones of Israel…Even if a person sees in his dream a wounding sword in his hand, what shall he do? Get up to the synagogue and stand before the Kohanim and listen to the blessing of the Kohanim, and nothing evil can hurt him. Therefore, He tells the Kohanim “Thus shall you bless etc.”[5]

If one has seen a dream and does not remember what he saw, let him stand before the Kohanim at the time when they spread out their hands, and say as follows: ‘Master of the Universe, I am Yours and my dreams are Yours. I have dreamt a dream and I do not know what it is. Whether I have dreamt about myself or my companions have dreamt about me, or I have dreamt about others, if they are good dreams, confirm them and reinforce them like the dreams of Yosef, but if they require a remedy, heal them, as the waters of Marah were healed by Moshe, our teacher, and as Miriam was healed of her leprosy and Chezkiyahu of his sickness, and the waters of Yericho by Elisha. As you did turn the curse of the wicked Bilam into a blessing, so turn all my dreams into something good for me.’ He should conclude his prayer along with the priests, so that the congregation may answer, Amen!...[6]

Bamidbar 6:24-27.
Midrash Shir Hashirim Rabah 3:21.
Kli Yakar, Bamidbar 6:24.
Shir Hashirim 3:7.
Bamidbar Rabah, Parsha 11, Piska 3
[6] Babylonian Talmud, Berachot 55b

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