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Tradition & Innovation

In the Shadow of Your Wings: Blessing on Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine

close up of older person's hands holding the four corners of a purple tallit, gathering the tzitzit (strings) together

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.

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