Hebrew Priestly Blessing
Orthodox Jews do not look at the Kohanim (priests) while they are saying the blessing, for two reasons:
1. One is not supposed to look at anything during the blessing. Instead one should look at the ground and
concentrate on the blessing. Looking at the Kohanim could be distracting.
2. When the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem, the Divine Presence would shine on the fingers of the
Kohanim as they would bless the Jews, and no one was allowed to look out of respect for God. Today
Orthodox Jews continue this practice as a reminder of what praying was like in days past.
NOTE: this blessing is also used to bless members of your household.
According to midrash (and Jewish tradition), in the beginning only God could bless other people.
His first blessing was to Adam and Eve ("Be fruitful...").
He later blessed Noah and his sons when they left the ark.
God especially blessed Abraham, who was given the power of blessing others (Gen. 12:3- "Who you bless,
I will bless").
Abraham did not directly bless Isaac, however,
since he did not want to also bless Ishmael, so God
stepped in and blessed Isaac directly (Gen. 25:11).
The power of blessing others was then transferred to Isaac, who then transferred it to Jacob (Gen. 27:30),
who then blessed his twelve sons before he died (Gen. 48-49).
In the Torah, God later taught Moses that the power to bless others would now come from His appointed
kingdom.