Chapter: 20 – Birkat Kohanim – The Priestly Blessing

10 – An Evil Kohen

The mitzvah to bless the nation applies to all Kohanim, righteous or evil. Therefore, even a Kohen who sins by eating forbidden foods, having forbidden relations, or committing other sins (excluding those to be outlined in the following paragraphs) is … Continue reading

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01 – The Mitzvah of Birkat Kohanim

It is a positive biblical commandment for the Kohanim to bless the nation of Israel, as it is written (Numbers 6:22-26), “Hashem spoke to Moshe, telling him to speak to Aharon and his sons saying, ‘This is how you must … Continue reading

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02 – Yisrael’s Kavanah

During Birkat Kohanim, each and every Jew must stand opposite the Kohanim and have kavanah to accept the blessing. He should not look at the Kohanim or at anything else, so as not to distract his thoughts from the berachah … Continue reading

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03 – The Place Where the Congregation Stands

When the Kohanim recite the blessing, the people being blessed must position themselves in front of them, as it is written (Numbers 6:23), “This is how you must bless the Israelites. Say to them.” Chazal interpret this to mean that … Continue reading

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04 – Four Biblical Halachot

There are four halachot specified in the Torah concerning Birkat Kohanim: “It is only recited in the Holy Tongue, while standing, with raised hands, and in a loud voice” (Shulchan Aruch 128:14). When one of these conditions cannot be met, … Continue reading

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05 – The Connection of Birkat Kohanim to the Amidah and the Korbanot

During the time of the Temple, the Kohanim would recite the Priestly Blessing after the conclusion of the Korbanot service. The Torah writes this in reference to the eighth day of the dedication of the Tabernacle, the day the Kohanim … Continue reading

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06 – Washing Hands Before the Blessing

Before the Kohanim raise their hands to bless the nation, they must wash their hands up to their wrists. There is an allusion to this in the verse (Psalms 134:2), “Lift up your hands in holiness and bless Hashem.” Any … Continue reading

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07 – Yisrael’s Participation in Birkat Kohanim

When the time arrives to recite Birkat Kohanim, the Kohanim are not permitted to start the berachah until the chazan or the gabbai announces “Kohanim.” This is because the Torah states (Numbers 6:23), “Say to them,” denoting that Moshe, who … Continue reading

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08 – The Kohen’s Obligation to Remove His Shoes Before the Blessing

One of the nine enactments instituted by Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai (who lived at the time of the destruction of the Second Temple) pertains to the law of Birkat Kohanim. He decreed that the Kohanim must not ascend the duchan … Continue reading

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09 – The Role of the Kohanim

The Kohanim had two main tasks: the first was to educate and teach halachah in Israel, as it is written (Malachi 2:7), “For the kohen’s lips safeguard knowledge, and Torah is sought from his mouth.” The second was to be … Continue reading

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11 – A Kohen Who Has Killed Is Ineligible to Ascend the Duchan

A Kohen who has taken a life may not bless the nation, as it is written (Isaiah 1:15), “When you spread your hands [in prayer], I will turn My eyes away from you… [for] your hands are full of blood” … Continue reading

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