As I was waiting in line for the COVID-19 vaccine I was quite nervous but also filled with gratitude for human ingenuity and the collective will to survive and protect each other. I was reflecting on the Hebrew word for vaccine – חִיסוּן – which shares a root with the word “יֶחֱסָיוּן“ – meaning protection or refuge – from one of my favorite phrases of Psalm 36, from verse 8:
וּבנֵי אָדָם בְּצֵל כְּנפֶיךָ יֶחֱסָיוּן
In the shadow of your wings humankind finds protection (or shelter or refuge – whichever word resonates most for you)
As the needle entered my skin – with all the hope and uncertainty it represents – this blessing came to me:
עִם חִיסוּן זֶה בְּצֵל כְּנפֶיךָ יֶחֱסָיוּן
Im hisun zeh b’tzel kenafekha yehesayun
With this vaccine, may we be protected in the shadow of Your wings.
When I go to get my second dose, I’m going to wear my tallit and say this blessing again, because receiving this vaccine feels like a gift from the universe, an act of faith, and a sacred obligation – a mitzvah – all at once.
Ritualwell content is available for free thanks to the generous support of readers like you! Please help us continue to offer meaningful content with a donation today.