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Which Kohanim should not participate in the Priestly Blessing?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg


Library » Daily Life » Prayer | Subscribe | What is RSS?


• A crucial prerequisite to the Birkat Kohanim is mutual love and respect between the Kohanim and the congregation. In fact, the text of the blessing recited by the Kohanim before the Birkat Kohanim thanks G-d for “sanctifying us with the sanctity of Aaron and commanding us to bless His people Israel with love!” If a Kohen despises any member of the congregation, or vice versa, it is hazardous for that Kohen to participate in the Birkat Kohanim.

If a Kohen despises any member of the congregation, or vice versa, it is hazardous for that Kohen to participate in the Birkat Kohanim
• There are differing customs regarding a Kohen who is in mourning taking part in the Birkat Kohanim, with Chassidic custom permitting participation. Even those whose community tradition discourages a Kohen mourner from participating in the blessing should consult with a rabbi before abstaining, as certain conditions may mandate participation nonetheless.

• A pre-Bar Mitzvah Kohen child can participate in the blessing along with the adult Kohanim. It is customary for children to join their father beneath his Tallit.

• The Kohen who for whatever reason does not join in the Birkat Kohanim must exit the synagogue sanctuary before the Chazzan begins the retzay blessing.


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Life Cycle » Death » Mourning
Jewish Identity » Kohains and Levites » Priestly Blessing
Mitzvot » Prayer » Priestly Blessing
Holidays » General Information » Priestly Blessing

(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Plural form of Kohain. Priests of G-d. This title belongs to the male descendants of Aaron, brother of Moses. The primary function of the Kohain was to serve in the Holy Temple. Today the Kohain is still revered and it is his function to recite the Priestly Blessings on certain occasions.
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) A follower of the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
Brother of Moses. First High Priest of Israel and progenitor of all Kohanim (priests) until this very day. Died in the year 1272 b.c.e.
A prayer shawl. A large four-cornered woolen garment with fringes attached to its corners in a specific manner. This garment is worn by males during the morning prayers, fulfilling the Biblical obligation of attaching fringes to four-cornered garments.
A cantor, or any individual who leads the congregation in prayer.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.