A 2700-Year-Old Worried Mother

A 2700-Year-Old Worried Mother

Every morning, sometime between their rushed bowl of cornflakes and their mad dash out the door to the bus, I bless my children. And these are the words I whisper over their heads each and every morning:

יְבָרֶכְךָ יהוה וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ
יָאֵר יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וִיחֻנֶּךָּ
יִשָּׂא יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם

Which means:
“May God bless you and guard you.
May God make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you.
May God lift up His face onto you, and grant you peace.”

So it was especially moving for me during a visit this week to the Israel Museum to see these same words of the Priestly Blessing written on one of the Museum’s most valued and treasured possessions: this 2700-year-old silver amulet:

And standing there in the dim museum lighting, I imagined a worried Jewish mother, just like me, hanging this amulet around a child’s neck before he or she set out from the safety of home to the big scary world outside their front door.

It made me feel a bit scared. To think of all this millennia-old vulnerability which I feel so sharply, and which that imagined mother felt as well as she whispered those holy words with emotion for her own child.

But seeing these words also comforted me. To know that that mother turned every day to the same God that I do. And that G-d’s unblinking eye is as eternal as the love in a mother’s soul.

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