The Mechaber writes that “one should take care to conclude his prayer together with the kohanim, to whose blessing the congregation responds ‘Amen.’ If, however, one cannot, one should say this: ‘Adir Bamarom… You who are majestic on high, abiding in power, You are peace and your Name is Peace. May it be your will, to bestow peace upon us.’ ”
The Mishnah Berurah (sk1-2, citing the Taz and Magen Avraham) states: “In our lands [Ashkenaz], it is the custom for the entire congregation to recite this [“Ribbono shel olam”] prayer while the kohanim duchan – even those who did not dream.” The reason given is that since kohanim only duchan on festivals in Ashkenaz, it is impossible that in the time between one festival and another one did not have a good or bad dream.
He further notes (sk 4) that this prayer should be recited three times in the course of Birkat Kohanim – once after “ve’yishmerecha,” a second time after “vichuneka,” and a third time after “shalom.” We repeat “Ribbono shel olam” three times, the Mishnah Berurah explains, because the conclusion of this prayer contains three requests which correspond with the three sections of Birkat Kohanim. “V’tishmereini – May you preserve me” corresponds with “v’yishmerecha – and He shall preserve you”; “u’techaneini – may You be gracious to me” corresponds to “vi’chuneka – and He shall show you His grace”; and “v’tirtzeini – may You accept me favorably” corresponds to “shalom – the bestowal of peace” (which is always given in a favorable manner).
The Mishnah Berurah notes that our prayer books do not correspond with these instructions since it prints a “Yehi Ratzon” for the congregation to say during the third section, rather than the “Ribbono shel olam” prayer.
(To be continued)
Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.