My Father's Blessing
A parent's blessing is stronger than any length of distance or amount of time.
When I was a young girl my father adopted the beautiful Jewish tradition of blessing his children each Friday night. He would give us this customary blessing by placing his hands over our head and saying the timeless words:
“May God make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah. May God bless you and watch over you. May God shine His face towards you and show you favor. May God be favorably disposed towards you and may He grant you peace.
My siblings and I would wait for this moment all week long. Receiving my father's blessing was the highlight of our week and we would fight to be the first in line for the blessing.
I've always had a special bond with my dad. Moving away from home was not an easy thing for me to do. Forgoing my weekly blessing and his warm touch upon my head felt like a great sacrifice. When I was 18 I headed off to Israel to study for the year. At the airport after saying all my goodbyes to the family I turned towards my father, head slightly bent, waiting for my blessing. His voice cracked with emotion and I didn't hold back my tears either.
I was only leaving for 10 months but deep in my heart I had a feeling that I might not be coming home. And even if I did, things would never be the same. I was moving on. growing up. I had big dreams to fulfill. My parents had given me wings to fly.
We cried together and I savored his wonderful blessing given over me. It carried me through the loneliness and difficult times during the year that lay ahead.
Less than two years later I got married. My family flew to Israel for the occasion and when all the festivities were over it was time for my family to head back home to Canada.
I went over to my father with pleading eyes that silently begged, “Please don’t leave.”
The taxi van pulled up outside the hotel and the bags were being packed into the trunk. Goodbyes and hugs were exchanged. I went over to my father with pleading eyes that silently begged, “Please don’t leave.” I stood in front of him, head slightly bent, waiting to receive his blessing.
I was a young bride. I was unsure. I was scared of embarking on this new stage in my life without my family to support me. I tried to hold it together, especially for my groom, but I felt so weak in that moment.
Saying goodbye to my dad
After my dad gave me the traditional blessing he whispered into my ear some other words of encouragement. Every word a blessing, almost a prophecy. “Eve, you will be strong. You will be okay. You will make a good wife...” And with that he got into the waiting taxi and left me to build a life with my husband.
Wherever I went I carried his deepest heartfelt blessings.
Over the past two decades life has taken me to far off places and adventures. It’s only on rare occasions that I get to spend quality time with my parents. These days my father's precious blessings are few and far in between. But I have held on to each one from all those years. I have absorbed the words, the meaning and the significance. I try to feel the love that traverses across the hundreds of miles that lie between us. A parent's blessing is stronger than any length of distance or amount of time.
From the time my children were born my husband and I have been giving them the customary blessings each Friday night. At the time a mentor told me, “Start while they are young, while they still let you touch them!” Blessing my children is very meaningful for me. It binds me to warm experiences that I had as a child.
Now as some of our own children are growing up and moving out of our home, traveling along the journey of life, we are not able to physically give them this blessing every week. I hope they feel the love that we send from afar. The prayers. The hopes. The love of a parent travels any distance. The power of a blessing is like nothing else. It breaks down all barriers.
May we all feel embraced by the blessings of our parents.