Vayigash, 5778

(:לעולם אל תהי ברכת הדיות קלה בעיניך (מגילה ט”ו

Never take the blessing of an ordinary person, lightly.

Every cell of the body is attached to a Divine source and is nourished by the soul. As such we hold wisdom in every bodily cell.

In the same way we can generate energy and transmit and project it outwards, we can also sense and receive human energy from others. Often you meet people who exude a lot of energy. It is not only extroverts and high-energy people who give out this energy. Sometimes a quiet introvert exudes a powerful, albeit less obvious energy. Energy is not always positive. Sometimes you sense a negative energy coming from an individual. Your hands are instruments both for transmitting and for receiving energy.

The Cohanim, when duchening (publicly chanting the priestly blessing[1]) with outstretched arms, use their hands to transmit the energy of their blessings. Ya’acov placed his hands on the heads of Ephraim and Menashe when he blessed them, to physically connect with them and transmit his energy to them.

There is a well-developed, ancient art of energy healing which uses the hands to convey positive, healing energy from one’s heart to a part of ones own or someone else’s body. While these often-unquantifiable practices propagate charlatans, the method when authentically applied by experienced practitioners yields impressive results.

The hands are not only transmitters of human energy; they are also receivers of energy. In a simple example, you pick up multiple energy signals when you shake someone’s hand. Energy healers use their hands to diagnose areas of stress or pain. In most cases they don’t even touch the patient but hold their hands about four inches above the patient’s body. I was once taught how to experience a stranger’s emotions with amazing accuracy, by holding an object (like a pen, phone or watch) belonging to that person. The hands are seriously sensitive to energy when you focus your intention, concentrate and allow yourself to feel.

Knowing the power of human energy helps understand the interaction between Yaacov and his two grandsons, Ephraim and Menashe. Strangely, in the same sentence as we are told[2], “And Yaacov saw the sons of Yoseif” it also says, “and he said, ‘Who are these?’ ” Rashi (based on the Tanchuma) interprets Yaacov’s words: “Where do these lads come from that they are clearly unfit for a beracha (blessing)?” He discerned a “negative gene” in them. He could sense that evil people would be descended from them and he couldn’t understand where the “bad gene” came from. Yaacov picked up on a negative energy. Yoseif then shows his father his ‘kosher’ marriage certificate, and assures his father that his family is pure and that these children were gifts of God to him.

The Sforno takes a different approach and says Yaacov, due to his blindness, could make out the forms of two young boys but couldn’t see who they were, and so he asks who they are. Later though, when Yoseif places Menashe, the older brother, on Yaacov’s right and Menashe to his left, so that the bechor (first-born) will receive the blessing through Yaacov’s right hand, Yaacov switches his hands around. Crossing his arms, he puts his right hand on Ephrayim, the younger son’s head. Yoseif intervenes to correct what he perceived to be his father’s error. Yaacov objects and says[3] “I know, my son, I know…but his younger brother will become greater than he.” How did Yaacov know which of the boys was which, if he was so blind according to the Sforno?

The Torah uses an unusual word to describe Yaacov’s switching his arms, it says shikeil,  שכל the same root as the word for intelligence. In fact Onkelos[4] translates the word here as לידוהי  אחכמינון “he granted intelligence to his hands.” He allowed his hands to go where they would and he trusted their inner wisdom. The Sforno himself says in a similar vein,

(השכיל והבין במישוש ידיו, בלא ראות.(בראשית, מ”ח י”ד


“He reasoned and gained insight from the feeling of his hands without the need for sight.”

We tend to think of the brain as the seat of all our wisdom. However, we now know that there are other seats of intuition and knowledge in the human body[5] as Kabalah has always taught. The heart and the gut are seats of energetic knowledge, as are the kidneys and liver. But more than that; every cell of the body is attached to a Divine source and is nourished by the soul. As such we hold wisdom in every bodily cell[6]. Our hands are one of the sensory instruments we use to interface with the world. They can collect energy, and they can transmit the energy that we can generate in our hearts. This is the power of beracha to generate and transmit positive energy from one individual to another.

The inner-power to generate and transmit positive energy through your mind and hands is not restricted to saintly people. Any person can do it. The Talmud says[7]:

(:לעולם אל תהי ברכת הדיות קלה בעיניך (מגילה ט”ו

Never take the blessing of an ordinary person, lightly.

Provided you are coming from a place of good intention with your desire focused wholly on the other person’s interests and not at all on your own, and you can fill your heart with love and caring for that person, the energy you will transmit to them through prayer and beracha, is powerful beyond your imagining. Try it.

[1] Bamidbar (Numbers) 6:24-27

[2] Bereishit (Genesis) 48:8

[3] Ibid, 48:19

[4] Onkelos (around 100 C.E.) provides the most authentic translation of the Torah into Aramaic. He himself was a convert to Judaism, the nephew of the Roman Emperor Hadrian who ordered Onkelos to find an investment that was not costly at the time but would be invaluable in the future. Onkelos found Judaism.

[5] Wisdom of the Gut, by Rachel Mahan, Scientific American December 2008

[6]Cellular Wisdom: Decoding the Body’s Secret Language, by neuroscientist Joan C. King, Ph.D;  and others

[7] Megilah 15a