A few weeks ago we started reading the first book of the Torah, Breishit (Genesis). It's in these stories that we meet the patriarchs and matriarchs and learn how the Ancient Israelites ended up in Egypt generations later.
A lot of "blessing" goes on in these stories. Gob blesses Abraham, Isaac blesses Jacob (a blessing Jacob steals from his brother Esau), and Jacob blesses the sons of his son Joseph, Ephraim and Menashe.
The "priestly blessing," known to many, refers to this blessing of Jacob's. It has become traditional for Jewish mothers and fathers to give their sons and daughters this blessing on Friday evenings, often right after lighting Shabbat candles.
This can be a very meaningful moment for parents and their children. Parents often place their hands on their children's heads while reciting the blessings. In my experience, children, once they become teenagers, pretend to not like this tradition anymore. I think they secretly love it, because they know it's a demonstration of their parents' love for them.
In English, the blessings are:
For boys: May God make you like Ephraim and Menashe.
For girls: May God make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah.
For both: May God bless you and keep you. May God's light shine upon you and be gracious to you. May God's face be turned toward you and give you peace.
To learn more, and for the blessings in Hebrew, check out the link below.
Bim Bam (video)
And check out this great article: How Blessing Children on Shabbat Models Unconditional Love.
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