I am a Kohen, a direct descendant of Aaron the High Priest, brother of Moses. Every day in the morning prayer service in synagogue, the Kohanim get up and bless the congregation. In the synagogue I attend, for the past 6 years there has been an elderly wheelchair-bound man who comes with his son. He looks to be 90 years old and his right side is partially paralyzed. Each time after finishing the blessing, I always stop by him on my way back to my seat. I warmly take hold of his hands, his right one in a sling, and he gives me a blessing for good health, happiness, and a long life. I then give him a blessing for the same, and I gently kiss his cheek. His son then grasps my hands, we exchange blessings, and he thanks me for the lovingkindness I show his father.
Yom Kippur is unique in that it is the only time of the year the Kohanim bless the congregation three times in one day. The third time on Yom Kippur is at the end of the service, Neilah, which is the last opportunity to pray to be inscribed and sealed in the “Book of Life” to make it through the next year. When I stopped by the gentleman’s seat for the third and final time at the conclusion of Neilah, he firmly grasped my hands, tears streaming down his cheeks, and gave me his blessing. As he spoke, I gazed intently into his eyes as I always do. We were connected, heart to heart. I get so much more from him then what I give, but I give all that I can from the depths of my heart. I pray that next year at the Neilah service of Yom Kippur, I will have the merit to receive his blessing once again.