Birkat Cohanim

Contributed by Rabbi Geoffrey W. Dennis

"Priestly Blessing." A three-fold blessing, "YHVH bless you and guard you/YHVH cause His countenance to shine upon you and be gracious to you/YHVH lift up His countenance toward you and grant you peace," said by the priest over the whole Jewish people at the times of festival gatherings. The ritual is performed with the hands of the priest held "Vulcan style," with the thumb and fingers forming three prongs, the shape of the Hebrew letter "shin" (ש‬).

The Birkat Cohanim is a form of incantation, made up of progressive verses of three, five and seven words. It invokes God's power to protect the person, grant material prosperity, and enlightenment. Each line contains the Tetragrammaton. From its words mystics have uncovered the twelve-part and twenty-two letter names of God. Reciting it can counteract bad omens and dreams.

Article copyright © 2004 Geoffrey Dennis.