Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Developing Inner Vision and Exploring the Spiritual Land

Rebbetzin with B'erot Alumna Chana
Twenty one years ago during Parashat Beha’alotcha we left USA, where we had to live for four long years, as my husband paid off his student loans by serving as a physician in the Memphis Correction Center. In Israel, when we arrived, it was Parashat Shalach during that year. I remember it was really difficult to return with a full heart and soul. It seems like everything in the Land of Israel was so rough without protective cushioning. I remember noticing walls with peeling paint, exposed light-bulbs with missing lampshades, and loads of kids with runny noses. Even the sun seemed to be burning us with its uncovered brightness. It was then on Shabbat afternoon when we sat down to study together that the Sefat Emet commentary on the weekly parasha fell into our lap. This commentary brought my husband and I back to seeing the land with other eyes, as it illuminated us to develop inner vision. Hashem had told Moshe to send spies to לתור/“latur” – to explore referring to looking for the good in the land, yet they became מרגלים/ “meraglim” – meaning they looked for the negative. [1] During that first Shabbat back in Eretz Yisrael my husband and I worked on turning our eyes of “meraglim” into eyes of “latur.” It was a painful process to let go of our comfort zone, and shed external layers, but in the end we succeeded to crack the nut of Eretz Yisrael, and enjoy its fruit. Read on to learn the main gist of the Sefat Emet that changed our outlook on the Land. Following the meditation, I share a poem I wrote during my first week back in the Land, inspired by the Sefat Emet.

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

Read Rebbetzin’s commentary to Haftorat Shlach L'chah "The Ability to Completely Turn Life Around"

Parasha Meditation Shlach L’chah
Bamidbar 13:1-15:41
Developing Inner Vision
This week’s Parasha teaches us to develop inner vision. Only through inner vision is it possible to see the goodness of the Land of Israel. Living in the Land of Israel entails many obstacles. Life here can be tough and rough. The salaries are low, if we are lucky enough to even get a job. The beds can be hard and uncomfortable, the people can be pushy, the bureaucracy can be frustrating, not to mention the apparent mess and disorganization etc. Yet, when we discover the hidden light of the Land, although it can be so strong that it almost blinds us, our emunah leads us to overcome all the exterior obstacles, and connect with the holy essence of Divinity which is connected to this Land like no other. This can be compared to discovering Shabbat. At the beginning, all the forbidden works might blind us from appreciating the gift of Shabbat. Yet, by keeping Shabbat we gradually sensitize ourselves to receive its blessings. Likewise, by living in the Land of Israel we can open ourselves to receive the hidden blessings of the land.

Conquering the Land through Emunah in its Spiritual Nature
The Netivat Shalom explains that the mistake of the spies was that they didn’t understand the spiritual quality of the Land of Israel, which is beyond nature. They thought that as soon as they would leave the desert, their miraculous existence being nourished directly by Hashem’s miracles would cease. They, therefore, desired to spy the land in the physical sense, in order to learn the best military strategy of conquest. Moshe, however, had in mind that the spies would explore the spiritual nature of the Land of Israel. He understood that since the holiness of the Land is so great, so is its flip side. The Land of Israel is surrounded by the impure husks of the Canaanites and Amalekites. It is important to prepare oneself spiritually for entering the Land by finding out the nature of these husks in order to know how to overcome them. For this reason Hashem told Moshe to spy the land “according to his own da’at – mindset”[2] – rather than according to the mindset of the spies, they were to explore the spiritual rather than physical nature of the Land. The only way to conquer the Land is through steadfast emunah (faith) in its supernatural quality, realizing how “the eye of G-d is constantly overseeing it.”[3] Since the spies were lacking this emunah, they were unable to inherit the Land.[4]

Actualizing the Hidden Light of the Land
Kalev and Yehoshua responded to the people who complained about the Land of Israel: “The Land that we passed through to spy – this land is very very good.”[5] If you look for the spiritual quality of the Land you realize how the land of Israel is prepared for the Jewish people alone. Then the good light which is hidden within it is revealed. The Jewish people and the Land of Israel are one, for the Jewish people become rectified through the land, and the Land becomes rectified through the Jewish people. “Your people, the children of Israel are all righteous, therefore, “they shall inherit the hidden land.”[6] The meaning of the word לְעוֹלָם/“l’olam,” is that although the holiness within it is hidden and concealed. (נעלם – ne’elam), the Jewish people have the ability to crack open the husk and thus actualize the hidden light within the Land. Therefore, it states: “The land was desolate and void…”[7] and only afterwards: “G-d said let there be light.”[8] In the same way, before Israel entered the land, its hidden goodness was not revealed within it. Therefore, the spies said, “The land through which we have gone to search is a land which eats its inhabitants.”[9]

The Land of Israel: Root of All Blessings
The spies didn’t understand that the Land of Israel spat out all the nations who lived there beforehand because it is prepared for the Jewish people alone. “The land will not vomit you out when you defile it, as it has vomited out the other nations that were before you.”[10] Only Kalev and Yehoshua understood that Children of Israel have the power to reveal the hidden light within the Land when we believe in its spiritual nature. Therefore they stated, “The land is exceedingly good…if Hashem desires us, then He will bring us into this Land…”[11] The Land of Israel is similar to the Shabbat. Just as it states in the holy Zohar, that Shabbat is the source of all the blessings,[12] so is the praise of Israel not recognized on the surface, yet the root of all blessings in the world depends on the Land of Israel.[13]

Make yourself comfortable, take several deep breaths and relax even more.

1. Imagine one of your favorite places in the Land of Israel. It could be the sandy beach with blue frosty waves of water, or perhaps it’s the green mountains of the Galilee. You may really be drawn to the plane empty vast desert, or the fervent fiery stones of the Kotel (Wailing Wall), or any other holy place or nature spot in Eretz Yisrael that you really love.

2. Imagine how the place looks. Take it in visually, the colors, shapes and textures that you see.

3. Now hear the sounds of your favorite place… The birds singing, the people praying, the water gushing, the wind blowing…

4. Touch your favorite place and feel its textures, soft, tough, dry moist….

5. Smell the fragrance of the flowers, the richness of the soil or the freshness of the grass after the rain, or perhaps the perspiration of the person sitting next to you.

6. Now taste the tastes of the place, the salty or sweet waters, the fruits growing in your chosen place, even the air has a taste. Take in your favorite place with all of your senses!

7. Feel comfortable and enjoy. Mentally thank Hashem for having created this place that your soul yearns for – Eretz Yisrael!

8. A Inhale א/Alef – One
B. Exhale רץ/Ratz – run,
C. Inhale ישר/Yeshar – straight
D. Exhale א-ל /E-l – to G-d.
Repeat this breathing imagery four times

9. Now imagine a place in Israel that you have a difficult time with. Perhaps it is noisy, smelly, or tense. Perhaps you may feel it is disorganized, rough and tough. Perhaps in place of a red carpet, you encounter thorns. Tune into this place; notice the things that disturb you about it.

10. Breathe Hashem’s light into the challenges you face in this place, and try to get in touch with the redeeming quality of each of them. Perhaps the roughness you are faced with is an expression of honesty and sincere directness. When you open your inner vision you can transform the tense to become intense.

11. Repeat the Eretz Yisrael breathing imagery again, as you imagine a place that is difficult for you to relate to in the Land of Israel. Imagine each of the difficulties bursting one by one, as you breathe the letters of Eretz Yisrael into them. With practice you will develop your inner vision and actualize the hidden light of the Land even within its darkest places. When you are ready you can softly tap your hands and feet and open your eyes.

Here is a poem I wrote when I first returned to the Land of Israel in 1992:


The land of Israel is like a nut
which must be cracked.
We need faith to believe
that the fruit exists inside the shell.
The shell which blocks our vision
calls attention to the rough
and difficult life.
Yet, our faith will lead us
to see with other eyes.
When we let our eyes penetrate
beneath the shell,
then we will be ready to crack it open.
The shell is like nature,
the fruit is beyond..
If we try to exist in this land
according to the rules of nature
the shell becomes like a wall
which pushes us out.
Only when we surrender to the will of G-d
will we be able crack the nut open,
and see the hidden light,
which fills this land.
We discover that the shell
was only part of our own limitation
a reflection of our blocked vision
now penetrated and dissolved.
We need not discard the shell
but employ it in building bridges
above struggling waters
and channel them into canals and ditches
like love flows from the heart
transforming our lives
to nurture gardens of Eden.

[1] Haketav V'hakebalah, Parashat Shalach.
[2] Rashi, Bamidbar 13:2.
[3] Devarim 12:12.
[4] Netivot Shalom, Parashat Shalach, pp. 62-63.
[5] Bamidbar 14:7.

וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֶל כָּל עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר עָבַרְנוּ בָהּ לָתוּר אֹתָהּ טוֹבָה הָאָרֶץ מְאֹד מְאֹד
[6] Yesha’yahu 60:21. The word לְעוֹלָם – “l’olam” is usually translated “forever.” I.e. “They shall inherit the land forever.” However, it can also mean hidden.
[7] Bereishit 1:2.
[8] Ibid. 3.
[9] Bamidbar13:32.
[10] Vayikra 18:28.
[11] Bamidbar 14:7-8.
[12] Zohar, Part 2, P. 88a
[13] Sefat Emet, Bamidbar, Parashat Shalach, year 5661.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Prayer for Miriam’s Healing and for the Longing of our Soul

Rebbetzin and some of B'erot's staff and students at Chana's wedding
Hope you are enjoying the month of Sivan as much as I do. It is filled with lights of Torah and ripening fruits.

This week’s parasha is about lighting the eternal lights. Its name Beha’alotcha means “When you go up!” This parasha celebrates the twenty first anniversary of when my husband and I with our eldest son Meir went back up to the Land of Israel, directly from Memphis, TN to Bat Ayin! So this parasha is especially endeared to us. 

One of my favorite women in Tanach – Miriam appears in this week’s parasha. Moshe cried out to Hashem to heal her with the shortest most beautiful intense prayer. Read my Parasha Meditation to learn about the healing power of this prayer that is easy to learn and begin to use.

Shabbat Shalom!
With Blessings of the Torah and the Land,

Chana Bracha Siegelbaum

Read Rebbetzin's commentary to Haftorat Beha'alotcha - "Shout for Joy, O Daughter of Zion…"

Parasha Meditation Beha’alotcha
Bamidbar 8:1-12:16
Remembering Miriam
There are six things every Jew is charged to remember every day.[1] One of them occurs in this week’s parasha: “Remember what Hashem your G-d did to Miriam on the way from going out of Egypt.”[2]
זָכוֹר אֵת אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה הֵשֵם אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְמִרְיָם בַּדֶּרֶךְ בְּצֵאתְכֶם מִמִּצְרָיִם: (דברים כד:ט)
Miriam was afflicted with צרעת (Tzara’at)[3] because she tried to correct her younger brother, Moshe, and help set his relationship with his wife straight. “Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moshe…”[4] Rashi explains that Miriam opened the conversation. As the initiator, she had more responsibility for the act.[5] Although she had the best of intentions: to alleviate the injustice inflicted upon Moshe's wife, nevertheless, her words of sisterly advice were considered lashon hara (evil speech) and she was punished with the plague of tzara’at.[6] If Miriam who only had good intentions to save Moshe and Tziporah’s marriage, and who only spoke privately with her brothers was punished so severely, how much more so must we be careful to avoid evil speech. Therefore, the fate of Miriam is included in the six remembrances, which we are supposed to recall every day, to strengthen our resolve to abstain from negative speech.

The Shortest Prayer in the Torah
As soon as Miriam began breaking out in tzara’at, Moshe poured out his heartfelt prayer to Hashem for her healing: “Moshe cried to Hashem, saying, O G*d please heal her.”[7] – “אֵל נָא רְפָא נָא לָהּ”.
 Moshe’s prayer for Miriam is the shortest prayer in the Torah, so that the children of Israel could not claim that Moshe lengthened in prayer because she was his own sister.[8] Sometimes the shortest is the most powerful. I’ve always cherished short books. An eloquent writer knows to express much with few words. Likewise, the Hebrew language is condensed and layered with meaning. Whenever you have a Torah book with Hebrew and English on facing pages, you will notice that the Hebrew is much shorter. The power of Moshe’s condensed prayer cannot be overestimated. The name of Hashem that he invokes: “אֵ-ל/K-El” is the shortest of names, yet refers to highest chesed – kindness, as in the verse: “The kindness of אֵ-ל/“K-El”– G*d the entire day.”[9] The word נָא/na – “please” or “now” is repeated, the first mention means please, whereas the second mention means now, “Please G*d heal her now!” – prayed Moshe, so that it wouldn’t be necessary to embarrass Miriam by making her leave the camp.[10]

The Yedid Nefesh Hymn
The words of Moshe’s Prayer for Miriam have been woven into the soulful piyut – (liturgical poem) calledיְדִיד נֶפֶשׁ /Yedid Nefesh Beloved of My Soul. This piyut was composed by Rabbi Elazar Azkari, who was among the mystics of the 16th century, Tzfat. The poet defined this song as “a supplication for union and the desire of love.” In this prayerful song, the words of Moshe’s prayer for Miriam become the expression of the longing of our neshama for Hashem, and the prayer for her healing by cleaving to Hashem:
הָדוּר נָאֶה זִיו הָעוֹלָם. נַפְשִׁי חוֹלַת אַהֲבָתֶךָ. אָנָא אֵל נָא רְפָא נָא לָהּ. בְּהַרְאוֹת לָהּ נוֹעַם זִיוֶךָ. אָז תִּתְחַזֵק וְתִתְרַפֵּא. וְהָיְתָה לָהּ שִׂמְחַת עוֹלָם. 

“Exalted Glorious Beautiful Light of the World my soul is love-sick for You Please, My G*d, please heal her by showing her the beauty of Your radiance, then she will be strengthened and healed and be Your maidservant forever.”[11] 

The Yedid Nefesh hymn imbued with love, longing and emotion is sung at times of great emotional and spiritual awakenings, such as the dawn hour, the welcoming of the Shabbat or the third meal of Shabbat.

The Healing Power of Hashem’s name: “I will be”
Moshe’s short prayer for Miriam is easy to learn by heart and use for healing. It consists of only five words with a total of eleven letters. These eleven letters correspond to the name G*d revealed to Moshe at the burning bush: “I will be what I will be.”[12]

"אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה": (שמות ג:יד)
This sentence of reassurance asserts that Hashem will always be with us in each and every exile.[13] Just as the burning bush is not consumed, so will neither exile nor illness have any power to consume the Jewish neshamah.

The word אֶהְיֶה/Eheye – “I will be” is actually one of G*d’s names. This name especially has healing powers. “Rabah said: Seafarers told me: ‘The wave that sinks a ship appears with a white fringe of fire at its crest, and when stricken with clubs on which is engraved: I am that I am, Y-ah, the Hashem of Hosts, Amen, Amen, Selah’ – “E-heye asher E-heye, Y-ah, Hashem Tze-vaot…” – אהיה אשר אהיה יה השם צבאות אמן אמן סלה – it subsides.[14] Perhaps the name “I will be….” has such healing powers, because healing take place as long as we have emunah and hope for the future.

Make yourself comfortable wherever you are. Close your eyes.

1. Feel connected, with your feet on the earth, your head upright, your chest expanded.

2. Feel Hashem’s life-giving breath circulating within you, as you breathe slowly and deeply through your nose. Filtering the air and taking in cleansing breaths, inhaling Hashem’s light to every fiber of your being.

3. Breathe in, imagine and pronounce the name אֵ-ל /“K-El – alef, lamed,” giving you strength.

4. Exhale, ask Hashem “please! נָא/Nanun- alef.”

5. Repeat four more times.

6. Now inhale as you ask Hashem “please heal”רְפָא נָא/“refa na – reish, peh, alef, nun alef.”

7. Then exhale pronouncing the wordלָהּ /“lah – lamed heh” as you focus on a particular part of your body that needs healing, a place that may be painful. Tune into the pain as you pray לָהּ /“lah”– her, bringing light into the pain, lifting the pain to become part of a greater future where this pain has served its purpose.

8. Now repeat the entire five word prayer in one sequence:
1. Inhale אֵ-ל/“K-El
2. Exhale נָא/“Na
3. Inhale רְפָא נָא/“refa na
4. Exhale לָהּ/“lah.”
Each time you get up the last word of the prayer לָהּ /“lah” which means “her,” focus in on a person or a body part where you want to bring Hashem’s healing.

9. Repeat this entire sequence three more times.

10. When you are ready shake out your hands and feet out and open your eyes. You may practice this simple powerful healing prayer spontaneous whenever you meet someone who needs healing.

The grandson of the Ba’al Shem Tov, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Ephraim explains that from this prayer that Moshe prayed for his sister Miriam there is an allusion to the custom when praying for someone sick to mention the name of the sick together with his or her mother’s name. The words רְפָא נָא/“refa na” – refa na – “heal her please” from Moshe’s prayer has the numerical value of 332 the exact same numerical value as the name of Miriam together with the name of her mother Yocheved.[15]

[1] 1. The Exodus, 2. The Revelation at Sinai, 3. Destroying the memory of Amalek, 4. How our forefather's tested Hashem in the wilderness, 5. What Hashem did to Miriam, 6. Sanctifying the Shabbat שש זיכרונות, סידור אשכנז, ספרד ועוד.
[2] Devarim 24:9.
[3] A spiritual skin disease usually mistranslated as leprosy.
[4] Bamidbar 12:1.
[5] Rashi, Bamidbar 12:1.
[6] Bamidbar 12:10.
[7] Bamidbar 12:13.
[8] The Gaon of Vilna, Kol Eliyahu, Bamidbar 23:23.
[9] Tehillim 52:3.
[10] Sforno, Bamidbar 12:13.
[11] Yedid Nefesh Hymn, Askenazi and Sefard Siddur, Mincha prayer on the Eve of Shabbat, verse 2.
[12] Shemot 3:14.
[13] Rashi, Shemot 3:14.
[14] Babylonian Talmud, Baba Batra 73a.
[15] Degel Machane Efraim, Parashat B’Ha’alotcha. The word “Refa רפא ” equals 281, the word “na נא ” = 51 totaling 332. The name Miriam מרים equals 290, the name Yocheved יוכבד = 42 totaling 332!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Spiritual Healing Power of the Kohanim Blessing

Sunset through the window of a student's room
Last year, 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 receive 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’m excited to share a meditation and new insights into the depths of this blessing which I venture to call a centerpiece of EmunaHealing.

With Blessings of the Torah and the Land
Chana Bracha Siegelbaum

Read Rebbetzin's commentary to Haftorat Naso - "Hidden Lessons from a Hidden Woman"

Parasha Meditation Naso 
Bamidbar 4:21-7:89 
The Spiritual Healing Power of Birkat Kohanim (the Kohanim Blessing)
This week’s parasha is filled with spiritual healing. It includes the powerful Kohanim (Jewish priests) blessing with which Jewish fathers and some mothers and grandmothers traditionally bless their children Friday night. Giving and receiving blessings has great spiritual healing power. The Kohanim were chosen to be the channel for Hashem 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]

Drawing Hashem’s Presence Upon Us
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 the first line is הָשֵם/“Hashem,” the middle word of the second line is פָּנָיו /panav – “His face,” while the middle word of the last line of the actual bless in is אֵלֶיךָ/elecha – “Upon you.” Together this spells out “אֵלֶיךָ הָשֵם פָּנָיו” – “Hashem’s face upon you.” Pronouncing the Kohanim blessing therefore draws Hashem’s presence upon us. Keep this in mind, when reciting this blessing as part of our morning prayer.

Love – The Glue Connecting the “Blesser” with the Blessed
Netivat Shalom asks why the Kohanim blessing is introduced with “…Who has sanctified us with the holiness of Aharon and commanded us to bless Israel with love”?[2] He explains that the entire building of the world is by means of love connecting the giver with the receiver. Only by means of love can the “blesser” bring down supernatural influences to the blessed. Hashem appointed Aharon the Kohen to be a “blesser” and spiritual giver in Israel because he possessed the attribute love and pursuit of peace.[3] The holiness of Aharon derives from his love necessary to connect the giver with the receivers. Hashem created humanity in order that he would receive pleasure from the light of the Shechina. It is only possible to receive this upper shefa (spiritual influence) by means of the relationship of receiving from a spiritual guide. This ability to receive from someone higher is the source of all blessings.[4]

Revealed and Hidden Blessings
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.

Physical and Spiritual Blessings
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.

Evolving from Daughter to Sister and finally becoming Mother
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 the children of Israel “daughter”, afterwards he called her “sister” and in the end “mother.”[5] At first the children of Israel are compared to the “Daughter,” who is below and the father is 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.[6]

Make yourself comfortable wherever you are sitting, standing or walking.

1. Breathe deeply and bow your head forward slightly to open yourself to become a vessel for receiving blessings.

2. 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 the spiritual vessels to hold all of these lights.

3. Visualize/recite the words: “:יְבָרֶכְךָ הָשֵם וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ”/yevarechecha Hashem v’yismerecha – “May Hashem bless you and guard you.” Hashem will not only bless you but, moreover, guard you so that the blessings will keep.

4. While focusing on these words imagine Hashem’s light flow downwards from heaven landing upon your head.

5. Think about something specific in your life for which you need a lasting blessing, and with humbly bowed head, make your request to Hashem for His blessing.

6. Now raise your head to upright position and visualize/recite the words: “:יָאֵר הָשֵם פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וִיחֻנֶּךָּ”/ya’er Hashem panav elecha v’chunecha – “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.

7. Imagine Hashem’s light facing you, in front of you, feel it entering your eyes, nose and mouth with delicious warmth.

8. Now visualize/recite: “:יִשָּׂא הָשֵם פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם”/yisa Hashem panav elecha v’yasem lecha shalom – “May Hashem lift up His face upon you and give you peace!” Feel at peace with yourself and your body.

9. 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.

10. 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 Shlomo, sixty valiant ones of the valiant of Israel surrounding it.”[7] “…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.”[8]

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 Kohanim, so that the congregation may answer, Amen!...[9]
[1] Bamidbar 6:24-27.
[2] The Siddur (prayer-book), the repetition of the Amida and Mussaf.
[3] Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers) 1:12.
[4] Netivot Shalom, Bamidbar, Parashat Naso, pp. 32-33.
[5] Midrash Shir Hashirim Rabah 3:21.
[6] Kli Yakar, Bamidbar 6:24.
[7] Shir Hashirim 3:7.
[8] Bamidbar Rabah, Parsha 11, Piska 3.
[9] Babylonian Talmud, Berachot 55b