April 12, 2006

Reviewing the Halachos of Birkas Kohanim

Brothers, I implore you to study the halachos of Birkas Kohanim BEFORE going to shul to duchan on Yom Tov.

There are a few points I want to stress:

1. The Kohanim do NOT say "Am Kidushecha K'amor" at the beginning (Mishna Berura 128:38) It amazes me how many Kohanim mistakenly say this.

2. We turn to the RIGHT only.

3. We are forbidden to look at our own hands when we pronounce the blessing.

4. We swing our hands only on words that end in "chah" (eg. yiverechiCHAH, v'yishmereCHAH, Vi'chuneKAH, etc.) as well as the word Shalom.

5. If the mechitza is on the side PLEASE make sure you swing your hands to cover the women as well. People standing behind the Kohanim, even if they are not directly behind, but behind them toward the side, are not included in the blessing. This is often neglected.

6. There are specific kavanos a Kohain has to have when he duchans. There is not enough time and space to elaborate here. Please refer to the handy book "A Guide to Birkas Kohanim."

7. We stay on the bima until Kaddish is over.

8. If people say Yashar Koach to you do NOT respond Baruch T'heyeh (Shulchan Aruch 128:17, Ramah and Mishnah Berura).

9. We wash our hands without a brocho if we touch our shoes.

Hope this helps.

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