1."May the Lord bless you and keep you;
2. May the Lord cause His face to shine to you and be gracious unto you.
3. May the Lord lift up His countenance to you and grant you peace" (6;24-26)
What do the three parts of the priestly blessing stand for? The commentator Abarbanel suggests that they are directed towards the members of three categories of occupations. For the population in a society tends to be divided into
1. those who work in the economy;
2. those who study and teach in the intellectual sphere,
and 3. those who are involved in the military. Or, as he phrases the three in Latin, laboratore, oratore and defensore. Abarbanel was no stranger to the workings of statecraft. As treasurer to the King of Portugal, Finance Minister in Toledo. After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, he was an office holder in the court of the king of Naples. Says Abarbanel, the Birkas kohanim, refers and relates to each of these three aspects of statecraft, in turn. Corresponding to the class of working people who produce the economy in a society, comes the prayer, Yevorechecho, may G-d bless the work of your hands, and bring prosperity. Veyishmerecho, may G-d protect the gains and earnings from being lost.
The second verse corresponds to the class of intellectuals and philosophers, those are engaged in the study of Torah: Yo'er Hashem Ponov. May G-d provide enlightenment and grace for you. Because material pursuits by themselves can leave a person unenlightened and unfulfilled.
The third verse Yiso Hashem Ponov contains the most appropriate prayer for those who are involved in the sphere of military and defence, veyosem lecho sholom – the blessing of peace. For the three main categories of occupation in society, working, learning and defending, are all vital. And so the blessings of the Almighty are upon those who are engaged in each.

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