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Blessing on your Head

A Blessing on your Head

Dimensions: H: 114 cm, W: 50cm, D: 34 cm [paper, acrylic paint, wood, metal, gold leaf]


This is a work about prayer, the special personal prayer in Hebrew that fathers and mothers, with their hands on their child's head, give their sons and daughters on Friday evening, after synagogue and before dinner. 


The text reads, for sons:

ישמך אלוהים כאפרים וכמנשה

May the Lord bless you like Ephraim and Menashe


And for daughters:

ישמך אלוהים כשרה רבקה רחל ולאה

May the Lord bless you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah


Then follows the famous ברכת כהנים , the Priestly Blessing, taken from the Bible, Numbers 6: 24-26. This is also the oldest known Biblical text, found in an ancient grave from 7-6th century BCE in Katef Hinnom in Jerusalem, engraved in Hebrew on small silver scrolls, and now on display at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem: 


יְבָרֶכְךָ ה וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ

May the Lord bless you and keep you; 

יָאֵר ה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וִיחֻנֶּךָּ

May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you;

יִשָּׂא ה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם

May the Lord lift His face unto you and give you peace.


Jewish parents (and grandparents) have been blessing their children (and grandchildren), including adult children, like this for many generations with a separate blessing each week, for each child. This prayer represents a parent's best hopes for his child, that the child should follow in the path of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs, and should find favour with the Lord. It acts as a conduit for forgiveness and love.


My work consists of some 20,000+ pairs of paper hands, based on my own hands, representing generations of parental blessing and prayer. Each right hand represents the prayer for sons' welfare, and each left hand is for daughters. The overall height is symbolic of a child’s height. Each paper hand was cut out by hand and piled up in a column. The perennial blessing appears at the top in gold leaf. 

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