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Longevity

Blessing for Longevity

עֵץ־חַיִּים הִיא לַמַּחֲזִיקִים בָּהּ, ותֹמְכֶיהָ מְאֻשָּר. דְּרָכֶיהָ דַרְכֵי־נֹעַם, וְכָל־נְתִיבֹתֶיהָ שׁלוֹם. מִגְדַּל עֹז שֵׁם יְהוָה בּוֹ יָרוּץ צַדִּיק וְנִשְׂגָּב:יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שׁתִּתְמַלֵּא רַחֲמִים עָלֵינוּ, וַעֲשֵׂה לְמַעַן אֲבוֹתֵינוּ הַקְדוֹשִׁים: אַבְרָהָם אִישׁ הַחֶסֶד, יִצְחָק נֶאְזָר בִּגְבוּרָה, יַעֲקֹב כְּלִיל תִּפְאֶרֶת. וּתְבַטֵּל מֵעָלֵינוּ כָּל גְּזֵרוֹת קָשוֹת וְרָעוֹת, בְּצֵל כְּנָפֶיךָ תַּסְתִּירֵנוּ, וְנִהְיֶה בְּרִיאִים בְּכָל אֵבָרֵינוּ וְגִידֵינוּ, וְתִשְׁמְרֵנוּ מִכָּל רַע וּמִכָּל פַּחַד וּמִכָּל חֹלִי, וְתַצִּילֵנוּ מִכָּל מִינֵי כִּשוּף וּמִבּלְבּוּל הַדַּעַת. וְאַל יִדְוֶה לִבֵּנוּ וְאַל יַחְשְׁכוּ עֵינֵינוּ, וְנִהְיֶה מְיֻשָּׁבִים בְּדַעְתֵּנוּ. וְתֵן בָּנוּ כֹּחַ וּבְרִיאוּת לַעֲבוֹדָתְךָ וּלְיִרְאָתֶךָ, וְתַאֲרִיךְ יָמֵינוּ בַּטּוֹב וּשְׁנוֹתֵינוּ בַּנְּעִימִים, וּבְכָל אֲשֶׁר נִפְנֶה נַשְׂכִּיל, וּבְכָל אֲשֶׁר נַעֲשֶׂה נַצְלִיחַ.אָמֵן כֵּן יְהִי רָצוֹן:


Explanation For The blessing

On Shabbat and on holidays, when the Torah is returned to the Holy Ark, the prayer recited includes two verses from the Book of Proverbs (Chapter 3, verses 18 and 17). The verses describe the good fate of those who live by the Torah: "She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." Our sacred Torah is compared to a tree, and all who hold onto it are said to grasp a floating piece of wood in a stormy sea and are saved from drowning.

The verses declare that the Torah ensures longevity and peaceful paths to all who live by it. As written in Metzudat David (commentary to the Book of Prophets) "For the Torah and thanks to the Torah, life will be received".

The verse has been repeated by Torah readers throughout the centuries, and is believed to embody the gift of longevity. Today, the verse is used as a blessing of longevity regardless if the Torah is being held and read. This can be illustrated through the following proverb: a ship is sailing across the sea, suddenly a storm begins and the ship breaks into pieces. One of the travelers is fortunate enough to find a large plank from the ship and holds on to it. Who is holding on to what? Does the man save the plank from drowning? Of course it does not! It is rather the other way round! The man saves himself from drowning by holding on to the boat. The same can be said of the Sacred Torah, as it is a life-saving tree in the midst of turmoil and tempest. When man contributes to strengthening the Torah, he does not salvage it, but rather the other way round! It is the Torah that saves him…

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