Light Shine Through

Naso By :  Danielle Upbin Rabbinic Fellow Posted On Jun 17, 2016 / 5776 | דבר אחר | A Different Perspective

We are Hollow Bamboo
Open up your heart and let the light shine through
Light shine, light shine through!
Light shine, light shine through

Words and music: traditional, with variation in second half by Billy Jonas
Copyright 2008 Billy Jonas, Bang-A-Bucket Music / BMI (based on a traditional song)

Joyously, I have uttered the Priestly Blessing for b’nei mitzvah on the bimah and for lovers under the huppah. I have poured out the same blessing over the heads of my children as a recurring Shabbat gift. These perfectly constructed phrases of blessing transport us through history to an ancient command:

The Lord spoke to Moses: Speak to Aaron and his sons: Thus shall you bless the people of Israel. Say to them:

May God bless you and protect you!
The Lord deal kindly and graciously with you!
The Lord bestow His favor upon you and grant you peace!

Thus shall they link My name with the people of Israel, and I will bless them. (Numbers 6:22–27 [NJPS])

Myriads of priests, parents, and clergy have bestowed this blessing over the centuries. But, ultimately, who is the source of blessing? The speaker—a mere mortal, scarred, marred, or otherwise unfit? Or is the source “The Source,” as the end of the verse suggests? As many commentaries have affirmed, surely God is the one true source of blessing. However, in sacred moments of family and community bonding in love and joy, the “blesser” becomes a hallowed vessel, connecting pure spirit with flesh and bone. We speak, and God whispers through our words.

Modern folk singer Billy Jonas offers a captivating rendition of a traditional song, “We Are a Hollow Bamboo.” The sweet voices of Jonas and the children joining him remind us that we, too, can open our hearts and become conduits of blessing. The how-to is simple: Close your eyes, breathe into the deep spaces of mind and body, and heed the ancient call to bless. Picture yourself as a bamboo reed bowing with the gentle breeze. Become a spirit vessel hallowed and hollowed to receive and give light, compassion, and peace. Repeat as necessary.