“Establish peace, goodness, blessing, graciousness, kindness and mercy upon us and all of Your people Israel … May it be good in Your eyes to bless Your people Israel in every season and every hour with Your peace. Blessed are You, Hashem, Who blesses his people with peace.”
In the nineteenth and final blessing of Shemoneh Esrei, Sim Shalom, we ask Hashem to grant us peace. Just as Birkas Kohanim, the Priestly Blessing, ends with a blessing for peace, so too we conclude Shemoneh Esrei with a request for peace. Our Sages tell us, in fact, that all blessings end with a request for peace (Yalkut Shimoni, Naso 711).
According to some early commentators, each person should mention the words of Birkas Kohanim in their silent Shemoneh Esrei before saying the nineteenth blessing (Kol Bo and Maharil, as cited in Prisha 121,5). We do not follow this practice, and only say Birkas Kohanim (or a substitute prayer) during the repetition of Shemoneh Esrei.
There is a strong connection between Birkas Kohanim and the nineteenth blessing that follows it. During Birkas Kohanim we make six requests: that Hashem should bless us, guard us, enlighten us, show us grace, lift us up and grant us peace.
In the blessing of Sim Shalom we ask for the fulfillment of these six requests. We ask Hashem for peace, good, blessing, grace, kindness and mercy (Elia Rabba 127,6). For this reason, many have the custom only to recite Sim Shalom in the morning of a normal weekday or in the afternoon of a fast day when Birkas Kohanim is said (Mishna Berura 127,12).
Text Copyright © 2010 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org