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    The threefold blessing – Naso

    On occasions when there are no kohanim present or they do not duchan, the chazan asks God to give us “the threefold blessing”.

    The reference is to the three sections of bir’kat kohanim from this week’s Torah reading. The first section has three Hebrew words, the second five and the third seven, adding up to 15 words.

    15 is the number of steps leading up to the main hall of the Temple, and 15 is the number of Psalms of Ascents.

    It is a significant number, marking progress to the culminating word, shalom. No-one can object to a blessing for peace; shalom is the only vessel able to hold all the blessings God wants us to have (Mishnah Uktzin 3:12).

    But shalom in this context is probably sh’lemut, “completeness”. If we have the physical, economic and spiritual boons listed in the priestly blessing, we are complete human beings.

    The end of Kohelet says ki zeh kol ha-adam – not “for this is the whole duty of man”, but “this is the complete man” who is ready to fulfil the law of the Sh’ma, to love God “with all your heart, soul and might”.

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