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This Week's The Torah Portion:

The Torah Portion "Naso"


"Naso" is the longest Torah portion of the year. And perhaps it's no accident: For it invariably turns out to be the Torah portion read immediately after the holiday of Shavuot (celebrated last weekend), which marks the very birthday of the Torah!

The highlight of Naso is the Priestly blessing, to be chant twice daily in the newly built Tabernacle - at sunrise and sunset:

The following is the translation I usually use for this famous blessing:

"The Lord bless you and protect you,
The Lord shine upon you and be gracious to you,
The Lord turn to you and bless you with Shalom".

Descendants of the tribe of Cohen still perform this ritual in the synagogue on holidays. In Jerusalem, it's performed at the Western Wall every morning. The blessing, which takes place at the conclusion of the service, calls upon members of the Cohen tribe to ascend the Bimah, extend their hands toward the congregation, separate their fingers in a special way and bless the congregation. According to Jewish superstition, it's forbidden to peek at the outstretched arms of the Cohen. One famous "peeker", however, defied this superstition as a child. His name was Leonard Nemoy (may he rest in peace); the rest is Star Trek History!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Alvin Wainhaus

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