Rabbinic tradition explains that there is a difference between prayer and blessing. Both are vitally important for our spiritual health and general well-being: like air and water for our bodies, our souls need both.
Prayer emerges from the heart, and forms a special bond between the person and the Holy One. In Hebrew, the word for prayer is “hitpalel” which is a verb form which is both reflexive and interactive, and shows the incredible and reciprocal relationship that comes from opening one’s heart to the Divine and connecting to a community of faith that spans the generations. Like water, this type of prayer irrigates the soul.
Blessings (brachot in Hebrew) are different- they are powerful vehicles by which the Breath of our Creator flows through us and nourishes us. We breathe in blessings and breathe out blessings. They are the means by which we breathe. The ancient rabbis teach that the specific letters and words of the blessings that we are commanded to recite hold mystical powers that sustain us and sustain the universe.
This Shabbat, the Torah portion of the week (Naso: Numbers 4:21-7:89) provides the specific words of the Priestly Benediction. Traditional rabbinic commentary explains that these words and letters can open up the channels of blessing that can bring powerful healing.
Come learn more, and join together in prayer and blessing, with the Reform Jewish Community of Atlantic Canada, as we celebrate a virtual Shabbat service together this Friday night, June 10th at 6:30 PM Atlantic (5:30PM Eastern and 7PM Newfoundland). Click to register and receive the Zoom link: