The Priestly Blessing

The meaning and practice of this synagogue ritual.

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Kohanim as Conduits

The medieval thinkers discuss the obvious question of why God needs to bless the people through the Kohanim. Replies differ. Some believe that the Kohanim, the ancient teachers of the Torah, represent the blessings that stem from observance of God's law. Others see the Kohanim as the instruments by means of which God's blessings are transmitted. Human cooperation with the divine is required if blessings are to follow.

In all interpretations a determined effort is made to play down any magical elements. It is God alone who blesses His people. The Kohanim are, at the most, the vehicles He uses to transmit His blessings.

Reprinted from The Jewish Religion: A Companion, published by Oxford University Press.

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Rabbi Louis Jacobs

Rabbi Dr. Louis Jacobs (1920-2006) was a Masorti rabbi, the first leader of Masorti Judaism (also known as Conservative Judaism) in the United Kingdom, and a leading writer and thinker on Judaism.