During Chol Hamoed Pesach about 50,000 people participated in the traditional Priestly Blessing during the morning and Mussaf prayers at the Western Wall.
With hands raised, hundreds of Cohanim blessed the masses with the three part blessing from the Torah. The ceremony was led by the Chief Rabbis of Israel, the Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites, and the Minister of Religious Affairs, Rabbi David Azoulay. Thousands of Jews from the Diaspora, who came to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, attended this memorable event.
This tradition, established by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Gafner (of blessed memory), has been taking place for almost forty-six years. It is based on the special ritual written about by the Ba’al HaRokeach, which describes the blessing of three hundred Cohanim, in the location closest to the Temple. At the conclusion of the ceremony, special prayers were said for the Jewish nation, the IDF, and the Israeli police force.
The crowd was then addressed by the Chief Rabbis of Israel (The Rishon L’Zion-Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef and Rabbi David Lau) and Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites.
Tens of thousands flocked to the Western Wall Plaza every day of the holiday to commemorate the memory of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Due to the current security situation the Israeli police was out in full force, ensuring security and safety for all attendees.
Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz said, “Today, everyone felt the beautiful unity among the participants at this Birkat Cohanim, which was attended by Jews from all over the country and abroad, regardless of their differences.”
He continued, “This pilgrimage is impressive evidence of the Jewish people’s connection to the remains of our Temple. When the masses come to cling to the stones, the beautiful scene is reminiscent of the days when the nation completely filled the streets, when they came to see and be seen. In this we are remembering the days of the Temple even more than we are remembering the destruction of it.”