THE PRIESTLY BLESSING AND OTHER FORMULAS FOR SPIRITUAL PROTECTION
What is this course?
From Rabbi Ruth Gan Kagan:
Birkat Kohanim, the Priestly Blessing, is one of the most ancient formulas of blessing and protection found in our tradition. Layers and layers of experience and meaning have accumulated through the ages, connecting it to warding off evil, priestly secrets, the relationships between parents and children, and different unifications of the Divine name.
Most striking for me is that in 1988, two tiny silver scrolls containing a version of this blessing, dating to the First Temple period (1200 - 586 BCE), were found in a burial site, located ten minutes walk from my home in Jerusalem. The site, at the bottom of a wildflower hill, was my only nature escape in all this past year’s lockdowns, when we couldn’t venture beyond 1 km.
So after visiting these graves weekly for a year I now (finally) heed the ancestral call and am inviting you to venture with me into an in-depth study of the secrets of the Priestly blessing.
Exploring old, magical and mystical texts that are still part of our liturgy to this day, is what I love to do, so I decided to add a few more beloved chants to this class. We will delve deeply into the Angel prayer (Michael on my right…), where we will be discussing angels, demons, directions, and Babylonian Jewish magic incantation bowls.
If time allows we will also study Psalm 91 - which the Talmud calls ”the psalm against evil spirits”, Psalm 121, and maybe more.
I am excited for this journey to begin. As is the custom with me we will be combining text study - Tanach (Hebrew Bible), Talmud, Zohar, and other mystical sources, with singing, chanting and an invitation for you to create and engage in inspired spiritual practice.
All texts will be provided in original Hebrew or Aramaic and with English translation in written form, except for some sources that will be translated orally in class. This course is open to novices and advanced learners of all backgrounds and orientations.
How does it work?
The course consists of ten weekly live online sessions, of approximately 1.5 hours each. Each session includes studying primary texts as well as a guided practice to ground the learning in embodied experience.
Each session will be recorded (in audio and video), allowing participants who cannot attend the live sessions to watch or listen at their own convenience. The recordings will be shared with all the participants after each session.
We will also form an online forum to allow participants to share thoughts, questions and experiences throughout the duration of the course.
This offers a wonderful resource for participants to give and receive support in their ongoing practice. Rabbi Ruth will be available by email and through this forum to respond as well.
The course begins on Wednesday April 21st and concludes on Wednesday June 23rd, 2021.
Live sessions will be held over Zoom at 9am Pacific / 12pm Eastern / 5pm UK / 7pm Israel time. Sessions can be joined live and/or listened to or watched via recordings at your convenience.
"I have had the pleasure of studying with Reb Ruth Gan Kagan twice. Her classes are engaging for both the intellect and spirit with her generous curated selection of source material that is artfully woven together with assignments and reflective opportunities to apply mystical teachings to everyday spiritual practice."
- Gabrielle Pescador, Rabbinical Student, Ann Arbor
"Reb Ruth’s mastery over the texts and concepts of our mystical tradition is obvious. But her teaching has a way of moving those words from the page right into your cells, so that you leave enriched and deepened. You don’t learn about mysticism, you begin to embody it. And this she achieves with simple good humor, encouragement, the benefit of personal experience and an infectious openness to the unknown."
- Irwin Keller, Rabbinical Student, California
"Rabbi Ruth is a deep wisdom teacher. I take every opportunity I can to study with her."
- Rabbi David Curiel, Somerville
"Rabbi Ruth is a terrific teacher. Her classes always rest on a wealth of research and source material, uncovering the hidden connections found in the Bible and Jewish tradition - the source sheets alone are a treasure trove. Meanwhile, Rabbi Ruth's methodology as an educator is grounded and consistent, creating a deep container for discussion, investigation and personal reflection. Highly recommended!"
- Rabbi Sarah Bracha Gershuny, Boulder