Hundreds of Cohanim (members of the Jewish priestly class), descendants of the biblical Aaron, stood by the Wall and recited the three-verse blessing, "May the Lord bless you and protect you; May the Lord shine His countenance upon you and be graciousness to you; May the Lord shine His Countenance on you and grant you peace."
The ceremony was attended by chief rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and Rabbi of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch.
The ceremony also included two recitations of the blessing and concluded with prayers for the State of Israel and the safety of the IDF and security forces.
“Everybody felt a terrific sense of unity today,” said Rabinovich. “Jews from around Israel and around the world participated… the pilgrimage (to Jerusalem) is an impressive testimony to the Jewish people’s connection to the ruins of our destroyed Temple.
"When so many people come to lay their hands on the stones at this place; the inspiring sight of thousands of Jews filling every inch of the plaza reminds one of ancient times, when thousands of pilgrims would come to see and be seen, and of course it is more reminiscent of the Temple than of the destruction.”
The modern ceremony was instituted in 1971 by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Gafner.
Gafner cited a rabbinic legend that a ceremony including more than 300 priests blessing the nation adjacent to the site of the Temple held unique spiritual powers.
Thursday’s services were led by Rabinovitch and by Gafner’s son, Rabbi Mordechai Gafner.
Article reprinted with permission from TPS.