Where do we look for the strength to carry on? How should we pray for Jerusalem in this terrible hour? One of Judaism’s oldest prayers, recited more than any other blessing, gives us guidance to face the unique challenges of these difficult times.
The Aaronic Blessing is packed with beauty and meaning for such a time as this.
The first section - Y’Varech’cha Hashem V’Yishm’recha – “May the Lord bless you and Keep you” asks G-d to prosper us with material and physical well-being. We are commanded to remember that He is our ultimate protection, and not only our own efforts. May we turn our faces to the Lord in this hour to the “Keeper of Israel, the Shield of Abraham.”
Let not allow the stones thrown become a stumbling block, but become a highway of holiness.
The second section – Ya’er Hashem Panav Elecha Vi'y'chuneka – “The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you” asks the Almighty to grant us wisdom ("Ya'er" is related to the word “Or” – light, a metaphor for wisdom). We cannot live by “gut reactions.” When in trouble, it is time to fall on our faces G-d and allow His face to shine on us. It is in the midst of uncertainly and danger that we must pray, “Your will be done, and not mine…”
This is also plea that we should find favor (gracious in the Hebrew) with G-d so that others should be built up with our teachings. His wisdom does not make us so arrogant that people resent us. This is especially true when we are angry and hurt and want to lash out at others, and our nation is seething right now. Let us ask the Lord to be gracious to Israel so that we might find favor with Him especially as we face of such turmoil.
The third section - Yisa Hashem Panav Elecha V’Yasem L’Cha Shalom – “The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” is calling us to look at our Lord right in the eye. When a person does not conduct himself properly and knows that he is wrong, even in the face of danger, he cannot face his Lord, nor can he face others with integrity. But when we do the right thing, we can lift up our heads in the sight of G-d, and this, in turn, evokes a similar response from the Lord.
When our gaze meets our Maker, we are at Peace, and there is no greater strength than to walk in the light and be in fellowship with the will of G-d.
These are the blessings we should have in mind when we pray for Israel. Security, wisdom, humility, favor with G-d grace and the peace that comes from knowing that we are doing the right thing. When we live like this “in the image of G-d,” we will bring Shalom not only to ourselves, but to the entire world.