I boarded a plane this past week along with 30 or 40 Jewish teens. Their destination was an international conference just for Jewish young people in Chicago. They explained the goals and programming of the conference including the agenda for Shabbat. My two row-mates and I shared freely during the flight so in our approach I had to ask; “what does Shabbat mean to you as an individual?” The young man was candid in his reply that it really meant nothing and he viewed it as mostly a tradition. But then he added that it remains a highlight of the week because on Friday evening his family will come together and connect before dispersing for the weekend activities.
This is the same practice seen in many homes in Jerusalem at the beginning of each Sabbath. Families come together and fathers bless mothers and mothers bless fathers, parents bless children and children bless parents. “Blessing” is a tradition not like the Christian tradition of praying for each other but rather applying Biblical passages of blessing to the individual. For example the father would bless the mother speaking or singing verses from Proverbs 30 exalting her virtues and expressing his appreciation of her.
I don’t know how far back this tradition goes, but it has the taste of creation. It fits within the picture of God to envision Him doing just that every Sabbath for us – extolling our virtues and expressing His appreciation for us. Go ahead, reflect the image of God by blessing your child, your parent, and your spouse.