This blessing "formula" helps us return again and again to the notion that we do not possess individual agency in all things. Something bigger than us, something greater and at the same time unknowable, is part of the bigger picture of life, death and the universe; and it's foolish for any human being to think that s/he can do it alone. And not just without God's help; we're foolish if we think we can do it alone, without help from others around us.
Human beings are not hard-wired to be so independent.
I was recently asked to set a version of the Priestly Blessing for a community's Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) service. The group had some specific parameters, including an overall uplifting feel and a need to break down the final three verses of the Priestly Blessing so that each word could be chanted by a leader and then repeated by the community. There were some communications back and forth to work out these parameters, and to clarify which Hebrew text they wanted set to music. Then, I got to work, hanging out with the text for awhile before making any music; and finally, about two weeks after I got the request, I began playing with melodies and syllabic placement until I came up with something I felt good about and knew would work.
I sent it off, and I think they'll like it enough to use at their next Rosh Chodesh gathering.
What's amazing and so cool about this is that they reached out to me, and together we worked out the parameters for what they needed. I could've just gone off by myself and composed something, but without knowing the initial parameters it could have been something very far from their vision, not useful at all. Only by working together was I able to get the information I needed to create something that would be of use to them.
Because no one is operating in a vacuum here.
I was humbled and honored to be asked, and I'm pleased with how it turned out. They've promised to send me a recording of what it will sound like with their whole group singing together. When I get it, I promise to share.
It feels good to end the week with creative pursuits before putting everything aside for Shabbat.
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Friday to all of you!