After Vayikra (Leviticus), our spiritual antennae are especially sensitive to the idea of being blessed by God.
We studied the blessings and curses at the end of that book. In essence, we came to the conclusion that the language of blessings, perhaps metaphorically, yet most deeply, conveys a contentment, a strength, a wholeness that comes from nearness to God and living in the ways of God.
The priestly blessing which we encounter this
week beautifully enriches what we have learned.
God instructs Moses that the priests are to invoke God's name on behalf of the people and through them we learn that God blesses us and keeps us.
God makes the Divine face shine upon us and grant favor to us. The Ultimate Sovereign, in audience with us, shows us favor and gives us access to the light of the Divine face. We could see this light as the light that enlightens our thoughts and lives. It gives us the wisdom to understand God's ways, especially in justice, righteousness, mercy, and loving kindness. And it gives us the comfort and support of God's grace.
God lifts up the Divine countenance and gives us shalom. This could be understood as God's brightening in the connection with us and delivering to us a sense of ever-lasting well-being.
We live in covenant with God, committed to God's ways. God blesses us, keeps us, illuminates our way, is gracious to us, and gives us the greatest gift of all - a peace through companionship with the Divine that blesses us during and after all that confronts us in and after our physical lives.