Ben-Tzion Spitz
Former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay

Secrets of the Priestly Blessing (Naso)

Love is a portion of the soul itself, and it is of the same nature as the celestial breathing of the atmosphere of paradise. -Victor Hugo

“Under the Talit” (AI image by author)

The Torah provides an ancient, fifteen-word formula for blessing. It is known as the Priestly Blessing (Birkat Kohanim in Hebrew). Its English translation is as follows:

God bless you and protect you;

God shine His countenance upon you and grace you;

God lift His countenance to you and grant you peace.

There is a beautiful tradition for parents to bless their children every Friday night before the Shabbat Kiddush with this blessing. However, more formally, this blessing is proclaimed daily in the Synagogue prayers during the prayer leader’s repetition of the Amida prayer.

In Israel, every day, during the morning prayers (and outside of Israel, generally, just during the Festivals), the Kohanim, the priestly descendants of Aaron, the High Priest, bless the rest of the congregation with this formula.

Typically, they cover their heads and outstretched arms with their Talit, the prayer shawl, when they recite the blessing while spreading their ten fingers in an unusual pattern. Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim of Prague, the Kli Yakar (1550-1619), on Number 6:24, states that there are secrets to creation hidden within the ritual.

The ten fingers refer to the ten revealed physical attributes of a person and the ten hidden spiritual aspects of a person. He explains that each parent contributes five physical attributes to their child, while God bestows all ten of the spiritual characteristics.

The father is responsible for all the “white” in a person: tendons, bones, brain, fingernails, and the white of the eyes.

The mother is responsible for all the “red” in a person: skin, muscles, blood, hair, and the dark of the eyes.

God infuses man with ten spiritual abilities: spirit, soul, features of the face, vision, hearing, speech, walking, knowledge, understanding and wisdom.

The priests, during their blessing, are directing divine energy towards us. The blessings are directed to both the openly physical aspects of our being, as well as the hidden spiritual dimension.

May we continuously absorb their blessings.

Chag Shavuot Sameach and Shabbat Shalom,



To all the brave men and women who participated in the daring rescue of the four hostages from Gaza in Operation Arnon.

About the Author
Ben-Tzion Spitz is the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay. He is the author of six books of Biblical Fiction and hundreds of articles and stories dealing with biblical themes. He is the publisher of Torah.Works, a website dedicated to the exploration of classic Jewish texts, as well as TweetYomi, which publishes daily Torah tweets on Parsha, Mishna, Daf, Rambam, Halacha, Tanya and Emuna. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.
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