For thousands of years Jews have honored the command God gave them to set aside the Sabbath, the seventh day, as a time for rest, relationship, and worship. One of the most meaningful Sabbath traditions is the blessing over the children given on Friday night.
There are many variations on how these blessing are given. The most common custom is for the father to put his hands on the child’s head and recite the words of the scripture, either by having the child get up from the table after the meal and stand before him, or for him to walk around the table and stand over the child. Some families follow this blessing with a kiss. In other homes the parents give personal words of praise. In some families the mother shares giving the blessing with the father. Whatever procedure is used, the blessing serves as a sacred transfer of favor. Not only does it make the child feel loved, the Jews believe it is a means of releasing God’s grace into the child’s life.
Here’s the Hebrew transliteration and the English translation of the most common blessing taken from Aaron’s blessing in the Old Testament, Numbers 6:22-27:
Ye’varech’echa Adonoy ve’yish’merecha.
Ya’ir Adonoy panav eilecha viy-chuneka.
Yisa Adonoy panav eilecha, ve’yasim lecha shalom.
May God bless you and watch over you.
May God shine His face toward you and show you favor.
May God look on you with favor and grant you shalom peace.
Offer this ancient blessing over your children today!