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Making Sparks Fly! Developing Your Spiritual Dynamo - D'var Torah for Parshat VaYechi

12/30/2020 03:48:50 PM


Faraday Machine

Back in 1830, young Michael Faraday was messing around with magnets and wires when he made a curious discovery: when you moved a magnet close to a wire coil, it produced a little zap of electricity! Wowza! Rather than metal plates in stinky acid bath batteries, here was a way to generate infinite energy!

But no. Once the magnet stopped moving, no more electricity. So Michael moved the magnet away and presto! Another jolt!
The key was not in simply holding a magnet and a coil of wire together, it was in MOVING them closer together, then further apart, back and forth. That was the secret sauce that Michael Faraday discovered, and that is what forms the basis of all of our tech to this day.

In the same way, spiritual energy needs to flow to be felt. That is the essence of blessing. You have to give it to get it. You have to let it flow to let it grow.

In this week’s Torah portion, Jacob our ancestor shows us how it’s done. He gathers his grandchildren, his children and everyone he loves close to him, places his hands on their heads and lets it rip. The blessing energy infuses the family with so much love, faith, hope and strength that we’re still feeling it today.

And something else happens. Jacob himself is transformed from our old, loveable, shepherd wanderer great-great-grandpa into the eternal being of blessing: Yisrael. It says that Jacob died and was buried by his children in the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron, but Yisrael, the Talmud says, never died; that wave of blessing energy flows on and on.

And every Friday night, we are invited to fire up the blessing superpower within each Jewish soul and pass it on to our children, grandchildren, spouses, loved ones. The key is to find that place in the heart that is pure, primal, inexhaustible love, stretch out your hand -- even if your loved one is not present, the connection is instantaneous -- and put the blessing into words. You can say the words aloud to your loved one or just in your heart. You can use the traditional words or be spontaneous.

And it’s incredible.

Faraday didn’t come up instantly with the electric generator; it took years and generations to figure out the proper alignment of the magnets with the wires, the distances, commutators, brushes, electromagnetic arrays and all the rest, before we all had juice for our gadgets. In the same way, it takes practice, experimentation, overcoming a bit of discomfort and trial and error to get the blessing power down, but like all things, the more you practice the better.

So, give it a shot. Before dinner on Friday night when the candles are lit is the recommended time, but anytime is wonderful: before a journey, after a journey, every night before sleep as part of a bedtime routine, over Zoom -- the blessing connection is a genuine Jewish superpower whose effects are as real and tangible as they are subtle and unpredictable. But above all else, it is part of our heritage, our identity and our essence. It is the Yisrael within us.

Here are the traditional words. Give it a try and you’ll feel the sparks fly!

Traditionally to our sons and grandsons, but it can be for sons, daughters and everyone:

Yasimcha Elohim KaEphraim U’Menashe
(G-d give you the blessings of fruitfulness and preserving of Ephraim and Menashe)

Traditionally to our daughters and granddaughters:

Yasimech Elohim k’Sarah, Rivka, Rachel v’Leah
(G-d make you like our holy matriarchs, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah)

To all of those we bless:Three part blessing

Yivarecheca Adonai v’Yishmarecha (Adonai bless you and guard you)
Ya’er Adonai panav elecha vi’chunecha
(May Adonai’s face shine upon you and give you grace)
Yisa Adonai panav elecha, v’yasem l’cha shalom
(May Adonai’s countenance always be lifted to you
and give you all the blessings of Shalom)


And then... a loving kiss -- not required, but frequently the activation code for a moment of love, connection and blessing. Shabbat Shalom!

Here's a demonstration of how to give the traditional blessing!

Wed, July 28 2021 19 Av 5781