SECTION 128 Laws Relating to the Priestly Blessing and the Factors that Disqualify a Kohen. (1-60)

קכח דִּינֵי נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם וְאֵיזֶה דְּבָרִים הַפּוֹסְלִים בְּכֹהֵן וּבוֹ ס' סְעִיפִים:

1 It is a positive commandment1 of Scriptural origin for the kohanim to bless the Jewish people every day with upraised hands,2 as it is written,3 “So shall you bless [the Children of Israel],” and, in another verse,4Aharon raised his hands toward the people and blessed them.”

After the kohanim have blessed the people with raised hands once in the course of a day, they have fulfilled their obligation according to Scriptural Law. The Sages ordained that they should bless the people during all the daytime prayer services.5 [This includes] the Morning, Mussaf and Neilah6 Services, and the Afternoon Service of a fast day.7 It would also have been appropriate for them to bless the people during the Afternoon Service every day throughout the year, but the Sages withheld [the recitation of the blessing] lest [the kohanim] be intoxicated, as stated in sec. 129[:1].

The Priestly Blessing may not be delivered without [a quorum of] ten men.8 [Thus] if there were ten present when the sheliach tzibbur began Shemoneh Esreh, but some departed [before he completed it], although [the sheliach tzibbur] concludes [his repetition of] the entire She­moneh Esreh,9 the Priestly Blessing should not be delivered.10 For it is an independent positive commandment; it is [merely] that the Sages positioned it within [the repetition of] Shemoneh Esreh.11 If, however, there were ten men present when the kohanim began reciting the blessing, and then some of them departed, [the kohanim] should complete their blessing, provided the majority of the quorum remained.

The kohanim are counted both with regard to the quorum of ten and with regard to the majority of that quorum, because they too are included in the blessing. The Sages12 perceived this in the verse,13 “[They shall set My name upon the Children of Israel,] and I shall bless them” — i.e., the kohanim. Even when there are nine kohanim and one Israelite,14 they should bless him, for the Priestly Blessing is bestowed in the singular: “May G‑d bless you,”15 and the like.

א מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה1 מִן הַתּוֹרָהא שֶׁיְּבָרְכוּ הַכֹּהֲנִים אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּכָל יוֹםב בִּנְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם,ג,2 שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:ד,3 כֹּה תְבָרְכוּ וְגו'", וּלְהַלָּן הוּא אוֹמֵר:ה,4 "וַיִּשָּׂא אַהֲרֹן אֶת יָדָו אֶל הָעָם וַיְבָרְכֵם".

וּמִשֶּׁנָּשְׂאוּ כַּפֵּיהֶם וּבֵרְכוּ פַּעַם אַחַת בַּיוֹם – יָצְאוּ יְדֵי חוֹבָתָן מִן הַתּוֹרָה.ו וַחֲכָמִים תִּקְּנוּ שֶׁיִּשְׂאוּ כַּפֵּיהֶם בְּכָל תְּפִלָּה מִן הַתְּפִלּוֹת שֶׁבַּיוֹם,ז,5 (ו)שַׁחֲרִית וּמוּסָף (דְּתַעֲנִית) וּנְעִילָהח,6 וּמִנְחָה דְּתַעֲנִית,ט,7 וְגַם בְּמִנְחָה שֶׁל כָּל יְמוֹת הַשָּׁנָה הָיָה רָאוּי לִהְיוֹת בָּהּ נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם, אֶלָּא שֶׁמָּנְעוּ מִשּׁוּם חֲשַׁשׁ שִׁכְרוּת, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן קכ"ט.י

וְאֵין נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם בְּפָחוֹת מֵעֲשָׂרָה,יא,8 שֶׁאִם הָיוּ עֲשָׂרָה כְּשֶׁהִתְחִיל הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר י"ח וְאַחַר כָּךְ יָצְאוּ מִקְצָתָן אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא גּוֹמֵר כָּל הַתְּפִלָּהיב,9 אֵין שָׁם נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִםיג,10 שֶׁמִּצְוַת עֲשֵׂה בִּפְנֵי עַצְמָהּ הִיאיד אֶלָּא שֶׁקְּבָעוּהוּ חֲכָמִים בַּתְּפִלָּהטו,11 אֲבָל אִם הָיוּ עֲשָׂרָה כְּשֶׁהִתְחִילוּ הַכֹּהֲנִים לְבָרֵךְ וְאַחַר כָּךְ יָצְאוּ מִקְצָתָן – גּוֹמְרִין בִּרְכָתָם,טז וְהוּא שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּיְּרוּ רֻבָּן.יז וְהַכֹּהֲנִים עוֹלִים לְמִנְיַן עֲשָׂרָהיח אוֹ רֹב עֲשָׂרָה, לְפִי שֶׁגַּם הֵם בִּכְלַל הַבְּרָכָה,יט שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:כ,13 "וַאֲנִי אֲבָרֲכֵם", כְּלוֹמַר לַכֹּהֲנִים.כא,12 וַאֲפִלּוּ ט' כֹּהֲנִים וְיִשְׂרָאֵל אֶחָד14 – מְבָרְכִים אוֹתוֹ, שֶׁבִּרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים נֶאֱמֶרֶת בִּלְשׁוֹן יָחִידכב "יְבָרֶכְךָ15 וגו'":כג

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2 A person who is not a kohen who recites the Priestly Blessing, even together with the kohanim, violates a positive commandment.16 This is [implied by] the verse,3 “Speak to Aharon and his sons, saying: ‘So shall you bless the Children of Israel.’ ” [I.e., the command is given to Aharon and his sons alone,] not to a person who is not a kohen. And when a negative commandment is derived from a positive commandment,17 its status is that of a positive commandment.

ב זָר שֶׁנָּשָׂא אֶת כַּפָּיוכד אֲפִלּוּ עִם הַכֹּהֲנִיםכה – עוֹבֵר בַּעֲשֵׂה,16 שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:כו,3 "דַּבֵּר אֶל אַהֲרֹן וְאֶל בָּנָיו לֵאמֹר כֹּה תְבָרְכוּ אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל" וְלֹא זָרִים, וְלָאו הַבָּא מִכְּלַל עֲשֵׂה17 – עֲשֵׂה:כז

3 If a kohen is not disqualified by any of the factors that will be enumerated18 and did not come forth to bless the people,19 even though [strictly speaking] he violated one positive commandment, he is considered to have violated three positive commandments,20 namely: “So shall you bless,”3 “Say21 to them,”3 and “They shall set My name.”13 [The above applies] only if the kohen was in the synagogue when the sheliach tzibbur called out “Kohanim!” or if one of his fellow congregants told him to ascend [to deliver the blessing] or to wash his hands [in preparation for its recitation].22 [This is implied by] the verse, “Say to them,” which is rendered in the [Aramaic] Targum as, “When you say to them.” [The inference is that] if he is not [called], he is not at all obligated to deliver the blessing, unless he does so on his own initiative.23

[For the above to apply,] the kohen must have left his place24 during [or before] the recitation of the passage beginning Retzeh25 [by the sheliach tzibbur] in order to take his place on the dais to deliver the blessing.26 If, however, he did not leave his place during the recitation of that passage, he may not ascend to deliver the blessing even if he was present in the synagogue when “Kohanim!” was called out and even if he was told to ascend, as will be explained below. Nevertheless, if he was told to do so before [the sheliach tzibbur recited] the passage beginning Retzeh, he is obligated to leave his place during that passage, so that he will not violate three positive commandments.27

(Even if he was not told to ascend before the passage beginning Retzeh — but he knows that the sheliach tzibbur will call out “Kohanim!” — he must leave his place [to ascend and deliver the blessing] while the passage beginning Retzeh is being said, so that he will not cause the observance of a Scripturally-ordained positive mitzvah to lapse.28 For the recitation of the passage beginning Retzeh and [indeed] the entire prayer service are of Rabbinic origin,29 whereas the delivery of the Priestly Blessing is of Scriptural origin.30 Nevertheless, the Sages are authorized to uproot a Scriptural [commandment] in a case in which one remains passive and refrains from action.31 And the Sages barred a kohen from delivering the Priestly Blessing if he did not leave his place during the recitation of the passage beginning Retzeh even though he was called [to deliver the Priestly Blessing] and told to do so. At the outset, then, one should not cause a Scriptural [commandment] to be uprooted.

Accordingly, in the case of a kohen who is weak and does not wish to recite the Priestly Blessing, it is insufficient that he does not move from his place during the recitation of the passage beginning Retzeh. Instead, [he should depart] so that he will not be in the synagogue when the sheliach tzibbur calls out “Kohanim!”

ג כָּל כֹּהֵן שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ אֶחָד מֵהַדְּבָרִים הַמְעַכְּבִיןכח שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵרכט,18 אִם לֹא עָלָה לַדוּכָן19 אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁבִּטֵּל מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה אַחַתל – הֲרֵי זֶה כְּעוֹבֵר בְּג' עֲשֵׂה:לא,20 "כֹּה תְבָרְכוּ",3 "אָמוֹר21 לָהֶם",3 "וְשָׂמוּ אֶת שְׁמִי".13 וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת כְּשֶׁקָּרָא הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר "כֹּהֲנִים",לב אוֹ אִם אֶחָד מִשְּׁאָר הָעָם אָמַר לוֹ לַעֲלוֹת אוֹ לִטֹּל יָדָיו,לג,22 שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:לד "אָמוֹר לָהֶם", וּמְתַרְגְּמִנָּן "כַּד תֵּימַרלה לְהוֹן". וְאִם לָאו – אֵינוֹ מְחֻיָּב כְּלָללו לִשָּׂא כַּפָּיו, אֶלָּא אִם רוֹצֶה.לז,23

וְהוּא שֶׁעָקַר רַגְלָיו24 בָּ"עֲבוֹדָה"25 לַעֲלוֹת לַדּוּכָן,לח,26 אֲבָל אִם לֹא עָקַר רַגְלָיו בָּ"עֲבוֹדָה" – שׁוּב אֵינוֹ עוֹלֶה, אֲפִלּוּ הָיָה בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת כְּשֶׁקָּרְאוּ "כֹּהֲנִים", וַאֲפִלּוּ אָמְרוּ לוֹ לַעֲלוֹת,לט כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר.מ וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, אִם אָמְרוּ לוֹ קֹדֶם הָ"עֲבוֹדָה"מא – חַיָּב הוּא לַעֲקֹר רַגְלָיו בָּ"עֲבוֹדָה",מב שֶׁלֹּא יַעֲבֹר עַל ג' עֲשֵׂה.27

(וְאַף אִם לֹא אָמְרוּ לוֹ קֹדֶם הָ"עֲבוֹדָה" אֶלָּא שֶׁיּוֹדֵעַ שֶׁיִּקְרָא הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר "כֹּהֲנִים" – צָרִיךְ הוּא לַעֲקֹר רַגְלָיו בָּ"עֲבוֹדָה", שֶׁלֹּא יִגְרֹם שֶׁיְּבֻטַּל מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁל תּוֹרָה,מג,28 שֶׁהֲרֵי בִּרְכַּת "עֲבוֹדָה" וְכָל הַתְּפִלָּה הִיא מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִיםמד,29 וּנְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם הִיא מִן הַתּוֹרָה,מה,30 אֶלָּא שֶׁיֵּשׁ כֹּחַ בְּיַד הַחֲכָמִים לַעֲקֹר דְּבַר תּוֹרָה בְּשֵׁב וְאַל תַּעֲשֶׂה,מו,31 וְהֵם מְנָעוּהוּ מִנְּשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִםמז כָּל שֶׁלֹּא עָקַר רַגְלָיו בְּבִרְכַּת "עֲבוֹדָה" אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁקּוֹרְאִים אוֹתוֹ וְאוֹמְרִים לַעֲלוֹת, אִם כֵּן לְכַתְּחִלָּה אֵין לִגְרֹם לַעֲקֹר דְּבַר תּוֹרָה.מח לְפִיכָךְ כָּל כֹּהֵן שֶׁהוּא חָלוּשׁ וְאֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לִשָּׂא כַּפָּיו – לֹא דַּי לוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יַעֲקֹר רַגְלָיו בָּ"עֲבוֹדָה", אֶלָּא צָרִיךְ הוּא שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת כְּשֶׁקּוֹרֵא הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר "כֹּהֲנִים"מט):

4 If [a kohen] ascended [the dais and delivered the Priestly Blessing] once on a given day, he does not transgress [if he does not deliver it a second time], even if he was told to come forth and do so, for he has already fulfilled his obligation according to Scriptural Law.32 The Sages’ ordinance that the Priestly Blessing be delivered in the course of every32 congregational prayer service can be fulfilled by other kohanim.

Nevertheless, if a kohen desires to deliver the Priestly Blessing a second time that day, [he may. This time, too,] he may recite the [preliminary] blessing,33 even if [now, at Mussaf,] he is blessing the same congregation that he blessed earlier that day [during the Morning Service].

([The reason he may recite the blessing that precedes the delivery of the Priestly Blessing may be explained as follows:] Even though he is not individually obligated to recite the Priestly Blessing [again], there is nonetheless an ordinance of the Sages that the Priestly Blessing be delivered in this prayer service. Hence [the kohen] may recite a blessing for this act in the same way [that a blessing is recited before one fulfills] any other ordinance or mitzvah of Rabbinic origin.)34

ד וְאִם עָלָה כְּבָר פַּעַם אַחַת בְּיוֹם זֶה – שׁוּב אֵינוֹ עוֹבֵר אֲפִלּוּ אָמְרוּ לוֹ "עֲלֵה",נ שֶׁכְּבָר יָצָא יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ מִן הַתּוֹרָה,32 וְתַקָּנַת חֲכָמִים שֶׁתִּקְּנוּ נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם בְּכָל32 תְּפִלַּת צִבּוּרנא – יְכוֹלָה לְהִתְקַיֵּם בְּכֹהֲנִים אֲחֵרִים.

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, אִם רוֹצֶה לַעֲלוֹת פַּעַם שֵׁנִית בְּיוֹם זֶה – יָכוֹל לְבָרֵךְ קֹדֶם33 שֶׁיִּשָּׂא כַּפָּיו אֲפִלּוּ בְּאוֹתוֹ צִבּוּר שֶׁכְּבָר נָשָׂא כַּפָּיו הַיוֹם,נב כְּגוֹן בְּשַׁחֲרִית וּמוּסָף (וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא אֵינוֹ מְחֻיָּב לִשָּׂא כַּפָּיו מִצַּד עַצְמוֹ, מִכָּל מָקוֹם תַּקָנַת חֲכָמִים הִיא שֶׁתִּהְיֶה נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם בִּתְפִלָּה זוֹ, וְיָכוֹל לְבָרֵךְ עָלָיונג כְּמוֹ עַל כָּל שְׁאָר תַּקָּנוֹת וּמִצְווֹת דִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִיםנד):34

5 Kohanim who do not wish to deliver the Priestly Blessing and [therefore] leave the synagogue35 do not have to wait outside the synagogue except when the sheliach tzibbur calls out “Kohanim!” After that they may enter. Even though they are inside the synagogue while the other kohanim are delivering the Priestly Blessing and they are not doing so, this is of no consequence, for they are no longer permitted to ascend [the dais], since they were not in the synagogue when “Kohanim!” was called out and they were not called [to perform this mitzvah].

Nevertheless, the kohanim have undertaken an additional stringency — not to enter until their fellows have completed the Priestly Blessing, lest it be said that they are of blemished lineage; for example, that they are the sons of a divorcee or of a woman who has undergone chalitzah.36 [People might jump to this conclusion] if these kohanim were in the synagogue when their fellow kohanim delivered the Priestly Blessing and they did not deliver it with them.

This is why they leave the synagogue before [the recitation of] the passage beginning Retzeh — lest it be said that they are of blemished lineage, for their priestly brethren have left their places to ascend the dais, and they have not done so.

For this reason, too, kohanim who are disqualified from delivering the Priestly Blessing for reasons other than blemished lineage37 leave the synagogue while the Priestly Blessing is being delivered, lest it be said of them that they are of blemished lineage. Nevertheless, if they did not leave the synagogue when the sheliach tzibbur called “Kohanim!” and even if they were told to deliver the blessing, they should not do so, even if they were disqualified only by Rabbinic ordinance. Although [a kohen] who does not ascend the dais [to deliver the blessing] when he is called or told to do so violates a positive commandment, the Sages are authorized to uproot a Scriptural [command] in a case in which one remains passive and refrains from action.32 Hence [such a kohen] does not violate the commandment at all, for he has been barred by the Sages [from observing it].

ה כֹּהֲנִים שֶׁאֵינָם רוֹצִים לַעֲלוֹת לַדּוּכָן וְיוֹצְאִים מִבֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת35 – אֵין צְרִיכִים לִשְׁהוֹת חוּץ לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת אֶלָּא בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר קוֹרֵא "כֹּהֲנִים" וְאַחַר כָּךְ רַשָּׁאִים לִכָּנֵס, שֶׁאַף שֶׁהֵם בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת כְּשֶׁשְּׁאָר הַכֹּהֲנִים נוֹשְׂאִים כַּפֵּיהֶם וְהֵם אֵינָם נוֹשְׂאִים כַּפֵּיהֶם – אֵין בְּכָךְ כְּלוּם,נה כֵּיוָן שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לָהֶם לַעֲלוֹת,נו וּכְשֶׁקָּרְאוּ "כֹּהֲנִים" לֹא הָיוּ בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת וְלֹא קָרְאוּ לָהֶם כְּלָל.נז

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, הַכֹּהֲנִים נָהֲגוּ סִלְסוּל שֶׁלֹּא לִכָּנֵס עַד שֶׁיִּגְמְרוּ הַשְּׁאָר בִּרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמְרוּ עֲלֵיהֶם שֶׁהֵם פְּגוּמִים,נח דְּהַיְנוּ בְּנֵי גְּרוּשָׁה אוֹ חֲלוּצָה,נט,36 אִם יִהְיוּ בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת כְּשֶׁאֲחֵיהֶם הַכֹּהֲנִים נוֹשְׂאִים כַּפֵּיהֶם וְהֵם אֵינָם נוֹשְׂאִים עִמָּהֶם. וּמִטַּעַם זֶה יוֹצְאִים מִבֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת קֹדֶם "רְצֵה",ס שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמְרוּ עֲלֵיהֶם שֶׁהֵם פְּגוּמִים כְּשֶׁיִּרְאוּ אֶת אֲחֵיהֶם הַכֹּהֲנִים שֶׁעוֹקְרִים רַגְלֵיהֶם לַעֲלוֹת לַדּוּכָן וְהֵם אֵינָם עוֹקְרִים.

וְכֵן מִטַּעַם זֶה אַף הַפְּסוּלִין לִנְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם שֶׁלֹּא מֵחֲמַת פְּגָמָםסא,37 יוֹצְאִים מִבֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת בִּשְׁעַת הַדּוּכָן,סב שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמְרוּ עֲלֵיהֶם שֶׁהֵם פְּגוּמִים. וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, אִם לֹא יָצְאוּ מִבֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת כְּשֶׁקּוֹרֵא הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר "כֹּהֲנִים", וַאֲפִלּוּ אָמְרוּ לָהֶם לַעֲלוֹת – לֹא יַעֲלוּ, אֲפִלּוּ אֵינָן פְּסוּלִין אֶלָּא מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים.סג וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁכְּשֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹלֶה כְּשֶׁקוֹרְאִין אוֹ אוֹמְרִים לוֹ הֲרֵי הוּא עוֹבֵר עַל מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה, מִכָּל מָקוֹם יֵשׁ כֹּחַ בְּיַד חֲכָמִים לַעֲקֹר דָּבָר מִן הַתּוֹרָה בְּשֵׁב וְאַל תַּעֲשֶׂה,סד,32 וּלְפִיכָךְ אֵינוֹ עוֹבֵר כְּלוּם כֵּיוָן שֶׁחֲכָמִים מְנָעוּהוּ:סה

6 It is an ordinance of the Sages38 that the kohanim should not ascend the dais to bless the people while wearing sandals or shoes.39 This precautionary measure was ordained40 lest the straps of the sandals or shoes of one [of the kohanim] should snap. Fearing that he will be laughed at, he may sit down to tie it while his fellows are reciting the blessing, and it could be said of him that the reason he went and sat down is that he is the son of a divorcee or of a woman who has undergone chalitzah.37

It is even forbidden [to recite the Priestly Blessing] wearing shoes that do not have a strap that ties them, for the ordinance of the Sages did not differentiate between one shoe and another. By contrast, one may [deliver the Priestly Blessing while wearing] leggings, even if they [are not attached to the] trousers, but are tied with straps close to the knees. We are not concerned that one of those straps may snap and [the kohen] will sit down to tie it. The Sages considered this possibility only with regard to a sandal strap, because an untied sandal might make the kohen the butt of embarrassing jests. Having the strap of one’s leggings untied is not as embarrassing.

However, some authorities maintain that if [the leggings] are leather, they may not be worn [at this time] because they are considered as shoes, and no distinctions are made with regard to shoes, even if they have no straps at all. If [the leggings] are of cloth coated with leather, they are not considered as shoes in this context and they may be worn. [Moreover,] even if they are of leather alone, but are [attached] to trousers, since they reach his loins they are not considered as shoes. In some places, however, it has become customary to be lenient with regard to leggings of all kinds.

ו תַּקָּנַת חֲכָמִיםסו,38 שֶׁלֹּא יַעֲלוּ כֹּהֲנִים לַדּוּכָן בְּסַנְדָּלִים אוֹ בְּמִנְעָלִים,39 גְּזֵרָה40 שֶׁמָּא תִּפָּסֵק לְאֶחָד רְצוּעוֹת הַסַּנְדָּל אוֹ הַמִּנְעָל וְיִתְיָרֵא שֶׁלֹּא יִתְלוֹצְצוּ עָלָיו וְיֵשֵׁב לְקָשְׁרָהּ וַחֲבֵרָיו מְבָרְכִין, וְיָבוֹאוּ לוֹמַר עָלָיוסז שֶׁהוּא בֶּן גְּרוּשָׁה אוֹ בֶּן חֲלוּצָהסח,37 וּלְפִיכָךְ הָלַךְ וְיָשַׁב לוֹ.סט

וַאֲפִלּוּ מִנְעָלִים שֶׁאֵין בָּהֶם רְצוּעָה מְקֻשֶּׁרֶת – אָסוּר, שֶׁלֹּא חִלְּקוּ חֲכָמִים בִּגְזֵרָתָם בֵּין מִנְעָל לְמִנְעָל.ע אֲבָל בָּתֵּי שׁוֹקַיִם מֻתָּרִים,עא אֲפִלּוּ אֵינָן בָּתֵּי שׁוֹקַיִם וּמִכְנָסַיִם יַחַד אֶלָּא קוֹשְׁרִים אוֹתָהּ בִּרְצוּעָה סָמוּךְ לָאַרְכֻּבָּה – אֵין חוֹשְׁשִׁין שֶׁמָּא תִּפָּסֵק הָרְצוּעָה וְיֵשֵׁב לְקָשְׁרָהּ,עב שֶׁלֹּא חָשְׁשׁוּ (חֲכָמִים) אֶלָּא בִּרְצוּעוֹת סַנְדָּל שֶׁגְּנַאי הוּא לוֹ וּמִתְלוֹצְצִין עָלָיו כְּשֶׁסַּנְדָּלוֹ מֻתֶּרֶת,עג אֲבָל בְּהַתָּרַת רְצוּעָה שֶׁקּוֹשְׁרִין בָּהּ בָּתֵּי שׁוֹקַיִם – אֵין בָּהּ גְּנַאי כָּל כָּךְ.עד

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםעה שֶׁמִּכָּל מָקוֹם אִם הֵם שֶׁל עוֹר אֲסוּרִים, שֶׁבִּכְלַל מִנְעָל הֵם וּבְמִנְעָלִים לֹא חִלְּקוּ וְאָסְרוּ אֲפִלּוּ אֵין בּוֹ רְצוּעָה כְּלָל. וְאִם הֵם שֶׁל בֶּגֶד מְחֻפֶּה עוֹר – אֵינָם בִּכְלַל מִנְעָל לְעִנְיָן זֶהעו וּמֻתָּרִים. וַאֲפִלּוּ שֶׁל עוֹר לְבַד אִם הֵם בָּתֵּי שׁוֹקַיִם וּמִכְנָסַיִם יַחַד כֵּיוָן שֶׁמַּגִּיעִים עַד הַמָּתְנַיִם – אֵינָן בִּכְלַל מִנְעָלִים.עז אֲבָל נָהֲגוּ בִּקְצָת מְקוֹמוֹת לְהָקֵל בְּבָתֵּי שׁוֹקַיִם בְּכָל עִנְיָן:עח

7 Out of respect for the congregation, it is advisable to make a point of hiding the shoes [of the kohanim] under the benches so that they will not be overtly apparent.

ז טוֹב לִזָּהֵר לְהַצְנִיעַ הַמִּנְעָלִים תַּחַת הַסַּפְסָלִין שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה מִגֻּלִּים וּנִרְאִין, מִפְּנֵי כְּבוֹד הַצִבּוּר:עט

8 Any kohen who has not washed his hands41 may not deliver the Priestly Blessing.42 This is implied by the verse,43 “Raise your hands in holiness and bless G‑d.” Even though [a kohen] washed his hands in the morning,44 he must wash them again before conferring the blessing, so that it will immediately follow the washing.45 The span of time implied by the term “immediately”46 is defined in sec. 166[:1].47 [The kohanim] should therefore wash shortly before the [sheliach tzibbur recites] the passage beginning Retzeh.48 (While he does so, they should leave their places and come forward to bless the people, as will be explained.49 The sheliach tzibbur should not prolong the recitation of the passages beginning Retzeh and Modim.)

The minimal extent to which [a kohen] must wash his hands [before the Priestly Blessing] is the same as that required for the sanctification of hands50 before [a kohen] served in the [Beis Ha]Mikdash; i.e., he must wash up to the wrist, the juncture of hand and forearm.51 In addition, it is possible that one is required to use [only] water that has not changed from its natural [appearance],52 as explained in sec. 160[:1], and that the water must be poured over the hands of the kohen as a direct result of human activity, as explained in sec. 159[:14, 17].53 This resembles the requirement for the sanctification of hands in the [Beis Ha]Mikdash.54

ח כָּל כֹּהֵן שֶׁלֹּא נָטַל יָדָיו41 – לֹא יִשָּׂא אֶת כַּפָּיו,פ,42 שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:פא,43 "שְׂאוּ יְדֵכֶם קֹדֶשׁ וּבָרְכוּ אֶת ה'". וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנָּטַל יָדָיו שַׁחֲרִיתפב,44 – צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר וְלִטֹּל לִפְנֵי עֲלוֹתוֹ לַדּוּכָן,פג שֶׁתִּהְיֶה תֵּכֶף לָהּ בְּרָכָה,פד,45 וְשִׁעוּר תְּכִיפָה46 יִתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן קס"ו,פה,47 וְלָכֵן צָרִיךְ לִטֹּל סָמוּךְ לִ"רְצֵה"48 (וּבִ"רְצֵה" הֵם עוֹקְרִים רַגְלֵיהֶם לַעֲלוֹת לַדּוּכָן, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר.פו,49 וְהַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר לֹא יַאֲרִיךְ בִּ"רְצֵה" וּבְ"מוֹדִים").פז

וְשִׁעוּר נְטִילָה זוֹ כְּשִׁעוּר קִדּוּשׁ יָדַיִם50 לִפְנֵי עֲבוֹדָה שֶׁבַּמִּקְדָּשׁ, דְּהַיְנוּ עַד הַפֶּרֶקפח שֶׁהוּא חִבּוּר הַיָּד וְהַזְּרוֹעַ.פט,51 וְאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁצָּרִיךְ גַּם כֵּן מַיִם שֶׁלֹּא נִשְׁתַּנּוּ מִבְּרִיָּתָן52 כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן ק"ס, וּשֶׁיָבוֹאוּ הַמַּיִם עַל יְדֵי הַכֹּהֵן מִכֹּחַ אָדָם כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן קנ"ט,צ,53 וּכְמוֹ בְּקִדּוּשׁ יָדַיִם שֶׁבַּמִּקְדָּשׁ:צא,54

9 A blessing should not be recited over this washing, because some authorities maintain that [a kohen] fulfills his obligation with the morning washing.55 [Washing] was required before delivering the Priestly Blessing only when one’s attention was diverted from guarding his hands [from contact with impurity] after the morning washing. And whenever there is a doubt regarding a blessing, the lenient ruling prevails.56

It is customary in some places that [the kohanim] do not wash their hands [before conferring] the Priestly Blessing in the Morning Service,57 but they do before [conferring the blessing] in the Mussaf Service, lest they have diverted their attention. Nevertheless, a blessing [over the washing] is not recited, even if [a kohen] knows that he diverted his attention, because it is possible that diverting attention58 [from his hands] does not disqualify him from conferring the Priestly Blessing, just as it does not disqualify one from reciting other words of Torah.59 [According to this view,] washing the hands was required before the Priestly Blessing only when [the kohen knows that] he touched a place of filth, in which instance merely cleansing them is not sufficient, as it would be for [the recitation of] other words of Torah.60

Accordingly, if [a kohen] knows that he touched a place of filth after he recited the blessing for the morning washing, all authorities agree that he is obligated to wash his hands and recite a blessing61 again over this washing before stepping forward to recite the Priestly Blessing. But what can be done? This is not the accepted practice!62 Every kohen who is G‑d-fearing and vigilant should therefore mind his hands from the time of the morning washing so that they do not touch a place of filth, whereby he would be obligated to recite a second blessing over washing his hands.

ט וְאֵין לְבָרֵךְ עַל נְטִילָה זוֹ,צב לְפִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ אוֹמְרִיםצג שֶׁיּוֹצֵא יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ בִּנְטִילַת שַׁחֲרִית,55 וְלֹא הִצְרִיכוּ לִטֹּל לִפְנֵי נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁהִסִּיחַ דַּעְתּוֹ מִשְּׁמִירַת יָדָיוצד אַחַר נְטִילַת שַׁחֲרִית. וּסְפֵק בְּרָכוֹת לְהָקֵל.צה,56

וְיֵשׁ מְקוֹמוֹת נוֹהֲגִיןצו שֶׁבִּתְפִלַּת שַׁחֲרִית אֵין נוֹטְלִין יָדַיִם לִנְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם57 וּבְמוּסָף נוֹטְלִין מִפְּנֵי הֶסַּח הַדַּעַת,58 וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן אֵין מְבָרְכִין,צז אֲפִלּוּ אִם יָדוּעַ שֶׁהִסִּיחַ דַּעְתּוֹ, לְפִי שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁהֶסַּח הַדַּעַת אֵינוֹ פּוֹסֵל לִנְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִםצח כְּמוֹ שֶׁאֵינוֹ פּוֹסֵל לִשְׁאָר דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה,צט,59 וְלֹא הִצְרִיכוּ לִטֹּל יָדָיו לִנְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁנָּגְעוּ יָדָיו בִּמְקוֹם הַטִּנֹּפֶת, וְלֹא דַּי לָהֶן נִקָּיוֹן בְּעָלְמָא כְּמוֹ לִשְׁאָר דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה.ק,60

לְפִיכָךְ אִם יָדוּעַ לוֹ שֶׁנָּגַע בְּמָקוֹם מְטֻנָּף אַחַר שֶׁבֵּרַךְ עַל נְטִילַת יָדַיִם שַׁחֲרִית – לְדִבְרֵי הַכֹּל חַיָּב לִטֹּל וּלְבָרֵךְ61 עַל נְטִילַת יָדַיִם שֵׁנִית קֹדֶם עֲלוֹתוֹ לַדּוּכָן. אֲבָל מַה לַעֲשׂוֹת שֶׁלֹּא נָהֲגוּ כֵּן,קא,62 לָכֵן כָּל כֹּהֵן יָרֵא וְחָרֵד יִשְׁמֹר יָדָיו מִשְּׁעַת נְטִילָתוֹ שַׁחֲרִית שֶׁלֹּא לִגַּע בְּמָקוֹם הַמְלֻכְלָךְ שֶׁיִּתְחַיֵּב לְבָרֵךְ עַל נְטִילַת יָדַיִם פַּעַם ב':קב

10 It is customary that a Levite pour water over the hands of the kohanim,63 recalling the verse,64 “And also your brethren, the Tribe of Levi..., draw [them] close to you; they shall accompany you and serve you.” [This custom also enables] the kohanim to add holiness to their [inherent] sanctity, by having their hands sanctified by the Levites who are termed “holy,” as it is written,65 “And you shall sanctify the Levites.”

A Levite who sanctifies the hands of the kohanim should sanctify his own [hands] first;63 i.e., he should wash his hands before pouring water over the hands of the kohanim, for how can he upgrade their holiness if he is not holy himself? In these countries, the Levites rely on their morning washing.66 If, however, one touched a place of filth, it is appropriate that he wash his hands before [pouring water over the hands of the kohanim].

If there are no Levites present, [the water] should be poured by a congregant who is his mother’s firstborn son,67 for it was through [the initial distinction of firstborn sons like] him that the Levites were sanctified.68 One who is a firstborn son to his father alone69 is not endowed with any particular holiness in the present age, for the firstborn sons were disentitled from the service [of the Beis HaMikdash].70

If no Levite or firstborn son is present, it is desirable that a kohen pour the water over his hands himself rather than have an Israelite do so, for it is preferable that he be sanctified by his own person, since he is inherently holy, rather than by an Israelite, who is not endowed with the same degree of holiness.

י נוֹהֲגִים שֶׁהַלֵּוִי יִצֹּק מַיִם עַל יְדֵי הַכֹּהֲנִים,קג,63 עַל שֵׁם64 "וְגַם אֶת אַחֶיךָ מַטֵּה לֵוִי וְגו' הַקְרֵב אִתָּךְ וְיִלָּווּ עָלֶיךָ וִישָׁרְתוּךָ".קד וּכְדֵי שֶׁהַכֹּהֲנִים יוֹסִיפוּ קְדֻשָּׁה עַל קְדֻשָּׁתָם, שֶׁמַּקְדִּישִׁים יְדֵיהֶם מִן הַלְּוִיִּם הַנִּקְרָאִים קְדוֹשִׁים,65 שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:קה "וְקִדַּשְׁתָּ אֶת הַלְּוִיִּם".

וְלֵוִי הַמְקַדֵּשׁ יְדֵי הַכֹּהֲנִים – יֵשׁ לוֹ לְהִתְקַדֵּשׁ עַצְמוֹ תְּחִלָּה,קו,63 שֶׁיִּטֹּל יָדָיו קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּצֹּק עַל יְדֵי הַכֹּהֲנִים, שֶׁאֵיךְ יוֹסִיף קְדֻשָּׁה וְהוּא אֵינוֹ קָדוֹשׁ. וּבִמְדִינוֹת אֵלּוּ סוֹמְכִין הַלְּוִיִּם עַל נְטִילַת יָדַיִם שַׁחֲרִית,קז,66 אֲבָל אִם נָגַע בְּמָקוֹם מְטֻנָּף – רָאוּי הוּא שֶׁיִּטֹּל יָדָיו תְּחִלָּה.קח

וְאִם אֵין שָׁם לֵוִי – יִצֹּק בְּכוֹר פֶּטֶר רֶחֶם,קט,67 שֶׁהַלֵּוִי הוּא קָדוֹשׁ עַל יָדוֹ.קי,68 אֲבָל בְּכוֹר לְאָב בִּלְבַד69 אֵין בּוֹ קְדֻשָּׁה עַכְשָׁו, שֶׁנִּטַּל הָעֲבוֹדָה מִבְּכוֹרוֹת.קיא,70 וְאִם אֵין שָׁם לֹא לֵוִיקיב וְלֹא בְּכוֹרקיג – טוֹב שֶׁיִּטֹּל יָדָיו הַכֹּהֵן בְּעַצְמוֹ מִשֶׁיִּטֹּל עַל יְדֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, שֶׁמּוּטָב שֶׁיִּתְקַדֵּשׁ עַל יְדֵי עַצְמוֹ שֶׁהוּא קָדוֹשׁ מִשֶׁיִתְקַדֵשׁ עַל יְדֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁאֵינוֹ קָדוֹשׁ כְּמוֹתוֹ:

11 If the Levite is a Torah scholar and the kohanim are unlettered, he is not required to pour water over their hands, so as not to denigrate the honor of his Torah scholarship. If, however, some of the kohanim are Torah scholars, he should pour water over the hands of them all, for reasons of harmony.71 There is an authority who maintains that even if they are all unlettered, [a Levite scholar] should pour water over their hands (for reasons of harmony, just as — for reasons of harmony — an unlettered kohen [is accorded precedence and] ascends [the bimah] for the Torah reading72 before a Levite scholar, as stated in sec. 135).73

Primacy should be given to the former opinion, (because [the two cases are different]: When the Levite passively refrains31 from going to serve the kohanim by pouring water on their hands, there is less reason to fear dissension than there is if a scholar is called to receive the first aliyah instead of a kohen.) Nevertheless, if [a Levite scholar] is willing to forego the honor due him and to pour water over the hands of the kohanim, he may do so. Indeed, it is proper for him to do so, in order to add holiness to the [inherent] holiness of the kohanim. This does not entail any prohibition related to disrespect for his Torah scholarship, (for he is not serving the kohanim by virtue of their priestly entitlement,74 but in order to add holiness to their [inherent] holiness. There is no prohibition for a scholar to denigrate himself in order to perform a mitzvah with loving punctiliousness75 and to increase holiness. On the contrary, it is becoming for him to do so,76 as explained in sec. 250[:4].)77

יא אִם הַלֵּוִי חָכָם וְהַכֹּהֲנִים עַמֵּי הָאָרֶץקיד – אֵין צָרִיךְ לִתֵּן מַיִם עַל יְדֵיהֶם, שֶׁלֹּא יְזַלְזֵל בִּכְבוֹד תּוֹרָתוֹ.קטו וְאִם מִקְצָת הַכֹּהֲנִים תַּלְמִידֵי חֲכָמִיםקטז – צָרִיךְ לִיצֹּק עַל כֻּלָּם, מִפְּנֵי דַּרְכֵי שָׁלוֹם.71 וְיֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵרקיז שֶׁאַף אִם כֻּלָּם עַמֵּי הָאָרֶץ צָרִיךְ לִיצֹּק מַיִם עַל יְדֵיהֶם (מִפְּנֵי דַּרְכֵי שָׁלוֹם, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכֹּהֵן עַם הָאָרֶץ עוֹלֶה לִקְרוֹת בַּתּוֹרָה72 לִפְנֵי לֵוִי חָכָם מִפְּנֵי דַּרְכֵי שָׁלוֹם כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן קל"הקיח).73 וְהָעִקָּר כַּסְּבָרָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָהקיט (לְפִי שֶׁכְּשֶׁהַלֵּוִי מוֹנֵעַ עַצְמוֹ בְּשֵׁב וְאַל תַּעֲשֶׂה31 וְאֵינוֹ הוֹלֵךְ לְשָׁרֵת הַכֹּהֲנִים לִיצֹּק מַיִם עַל יְדֵיהֶם – אֵין לָחוּשׁ לְמַחֲלֹקֶת כָּל כָּךְ כְּמוֹ שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָחוּשׁ בְּחָכָם הָעוֹלֶה לִקְרוֹת בַּתּוֹרָה רִאשׁוֹן בִּפְנֵי הַכֹּהֵן). וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, אִם רוֹצֶה לֵוִי לִמְחֹל עַל כְּבוֹדוֹ וְלִיצֹּק עַל יְדֵי כֹּהֲנִים – רַשַּׁאי, וְנָכוֹן לַעֲשׂוֹת כֵּןקכ כְּדֵי לְהוֹסִיף קְדֻשָּׁה עַל קְדֻשַּׁת הַכֹּהֲנִים. וְאֵין בָּזֶה אִסּוּר מִשּׁוּם זִלְזוּל תּוֹרָתוֹ (כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵינוֹ מְשָׁרֵת אֶת הַכֹּהֲנִים דֶּרֶךְ חֹק וּמִשְׁפַּט כְּהֻנָּהקכא,74 אֶלָּא מִתְכַּוֵּן לְהוֹסִיף קְדֻשָּׁה עַל קְדֻשָּׁתָם, וְאֵין אִסּוּר כְּלָל לֶחָכָם לְזַלְזֵל אֶת עַצְמוֹ מִשּׁוּם אֵיזוֹ הִדּוּר מִצְוָה75 וְהוֹסָפַת קְדֻשָּׁה, וְאַדְּרַבָּה זֶהוּ כְּבוֹדוֹ,76 כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן ר"ןקכב):77

12 Any kohen who does not step up to the dais [to deliver the Priestly Blessing] before the sheliach tzibbur concludes the passage beginning [Retzeh] which recalls the service [in the Beis HaMikdash] may not come forward78 later.26 [This is derived from the verse4 that first] states that “Aharon raised his hands toward the people and blessed them,” and then proceeds to say that “he descended after having sacrificed the sin-offering.” Thus it appears that he blessed [the people] before withdrawing from the sacrificial service. This is why [the Sages] ordained in the prayer service79 that the kohanim should step up to the dais before the passage beginning Retzeh is completed.80

Even if they have not actually ascended the dais [at this time, nevertheless, since] they left their place and advanced toward the front of the synagogue they are considered as if they had reached the front of the synagogue in the midst of this passage.26 This applies even if in fact they reached this place after the passages beginning Retzeh and Modim. Nevertheless, as an initial preference, every kohen should leave his place [and step forward] when the sheliach tzibbur begins the passage beginning Retzeh.

יב כָּל כֹּהֵן שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹלֶה לַדּוּכָןקכג קֹדֶם שֶׁיְּסַיֵּם הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר בִּרְכַּת "עֲבוֹדָה"קכד – שׁוּב26 אֵינוֹ עוֹלֶה,קכה,78 שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:קכו,4 וַיִּשָּׂא אַהֲרֹן אֶת יָדָו אֶל הָעָם וַיְבָרְכֵם", וְאַחַר כָּךְ "וַיֵּרֶד מֵעַשֹּׂת הַחַטָּאת וְגו'", מַשְׁמָע שֶׁבֵּרַךְ קֹדֶם שֶׁנִּסְתַּלֵּק מֵהָעֲבוֹדָה,קכז לָכֵן תִּקְּנוּ בַּתְּפִלָּה79 שֶׁיַּעֲלוּ הַכֹּהֲנִים לַדּוּכָן קֹדֶם סִיּוּם בִּרְכַּת הָ"עֲבוֹדָה".80 וְאַף אִם לֹא יַעֲלוּ לַדּוּכָן מַמָּשׁ אֶלָּא שֶׁעוֹקְרִים רַגְלֵיהֶם לַעֲלוֹת אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא הִגִּיעַ לַדּוּכָן עַד לְאַחַר "רְצֵה"קכח וּ"מוֹדִים"קכט – הֲרֵי זֶה כְּאִלּוּ עָלָה בָּ"עֲבוֹדָה".26

וּלְכַתְּחִלָּה יַעֲקֹר כָּל כֹּהֵן מִמְּקוֹמוֹ כְּשֶׁמַּתְחִיל הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר "רְצֵה":קל

13 Even if [a kohen] was held back from leaving his place during the passage beginning Retzeh by forces beyond his control, he may not ascend the dais [to bless the people]. If, however, he did ascend [in such a case], he should not descend.81

[The following rules apply when a kohen left his home for the synagogue while the sheliach tzibbur was in the midst of reciting the passage beginning Retzeh:] If he left home in order to go to the synagogue and not in order to ascend [the dais] and confer the Priestly Blessing, the fact that he left his place [on time] is of no avail. If, however, he left his home to go to the synagogue in order to ascend and confer the Priestly Blessing, the fact that he left his place is significant, provided he left before the sheliach tzibbur completed the passage beginning Retzeh. [This could apply only if] his home was close to the synagogue.

יג אֲפִלּוּ אִם הָיָה אָנוּס וְלֹא עָקַר רַגְלָיו בָּ"עֲבוֹדָה" – לֹא יַעֲלֶה, וְאִם עָלָה – לֹא יֵרֵד.קלא,81

וְאִם עָקַר רַגְלָיו מִבֵּיתוֹ לָבוֹא לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת וְלֹא כְּדֵי לַעֲלוֹת לַדּוּכָן – אֵין עֲקִירָה זוֹ מוֹעֶלֶת כְּלוּם.קלב אֲבָל אִם עָקַר רַגְלָיו מִבֵּיתוֹ לָבוֹא לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת כְּדֵי לַעֲלוֹת לַדּוּכָן – עֲקִירָה זוֹ מוֹעֶלֶת אִם הָיְתָה קֹדֶם שֶׁסִּיֵּם הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר בִּרְכַּת "עֲבוֹדָה", כְּגוֹן שֶׁהָיָה בֵּיתוֹ סָמוּךְ לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת:קלג

14 When the kohanim leave their places to ascend the dais,82 they should say: “May it be Your will, G‑d our L‑rd and L‑rd of our forefathers, that this blessing which You commanded us to confer upon Your people Israel be a perfect blessing. May there be no impediment or iniquity within it, from now and for all time.”

However, it is desirable that they refrain from reciting this prayer immediately after leaving their places during the passage beginning Retzeh, and instead wait until they have recited Modim83 together with the sheliach tzibbur. They should then turn to face the Ark and recite this prayer.84 They should prolong its recitation until the sheliach tzibbur completes the passage beginning Modim, so that the congregation’s Amen will serve as a response to both [prayers].85

יד כְּשֶׁעוֹקְרִים הַכֹּהֲנִים רַגְלֵיהֶם לַעֲלוֹת לַדּוּכָן82 – אוֹמְרִים: "יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁתְּהֵא בְּרָכָה זוֹ שֶׁצִּוִּיתָנוּ לְבָרֵךְ אֶת עַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּרָכָה שְׁלֵמָה, וְלֹא יִהְיֶה בָּהּ מִכְשׁוֹל וְעָווֹן מֵעַתָּה וְעַד עוֹלָם".קלד

וְטוֹב שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמְרוּ תְּפִלָּה זוֹ מִיָּד שֶׁעוֹקְרִין רַגְלֵיהֶם בָּ"עֲבוֹדָה", אֶלָּא יַמְתִּינוּ עַד אַחַר שֶׁיֹּאמְרוּ "מוֹדִים"83 עִם הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּרקלה וְאָז יַחֲזִירוּ פְּנֵיהֶם לַהֵיכָלקלו וְיֹאמְרוּ תְּפִלָּה זוֹ,84 וְיַאֲרִיכוּ בָּהּ עַד שֶׁיְּסַיֵּם הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר בִּרְכַּת "הוֹדָאָה",קלז כְּדֵי שֶׁיַּעֲנוּ הַקָּהָל אָמֵן עַל שְׁתֵּיהֶם:קלח,85

15 When the kohanim are standing on the dais with their faces to the Ark and their backs to the people, their fingers should be curled within their palms as other people [hold them]. They do not extend and spread their hands until the sheliach tzibbur calls them, [saying] “Kohanim!” They then turn to face the people and spread out their hands,86 as it is written,4 “And Aharon raised his hands toward the people and blessed them.” Implied is that his hands were spread out at the time of the blessing, (for if his fists were closed, his entire hand would not have been raised).

The sheliach tzibbur does not call out “Kohanim!” unless there are [at least] two [kohanim about to bless the people].87 For the phrase “Say to them,”3 which the [Aramaic] Targum renders as “When you say to them,” implies that [the call is addressed] to [at least] two [kohanim].88 If only one kohen is present, [the sheliach tzibbur] does not call him. Instead, [the kohen] turns to face [the people] on his own initiative and raises his hands, reciting the blessing before he raises his hands (even though essentially he is not required to recite the blessing, since he is not being called, as explained above).89 Even if there are two kohanim, but one is a minor, they should not be called.

טו כְּשֶׁהֵם עוֹמְדִין בַּדּוּכָן וּפְנֵיהֶם כְּלַפֵּי הֵיכָל וַאֲחוֹרֵיהֶם כְּלַפֵּי הָעָם – אֶצְבְּעוֹתֵיהֶם כְּפוּפוֹת לְתוֹךְ כַּפֵּיהֶםקלט כִּשְׁאָר בְּנֵי אָדָם,קמ וְאֵינָן פּוֹשְׁטִין וּפוֹרְסִים יְדֵיהֶם עַד שֶׁיִּקְרָא לָהֶן הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר "כֹּהֲנִים", שֶׁאָז מַחֲזִירִים פְּנֵיהֶם כְּלַפֵּי הָעָםקמא וּפוֹשְׁטִים יְדֵיהֶם,קמב,86 שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:קמג,4 "וַיִּשָּׂא אַהֲרֹן אֶת יָדָו אֶל הָעָם וַיְבָרְכֵם", מַשְׁמָע שֶׁפָּשַׁט יָדָיו בִּשְׁעַת הַבְּרָכָהקמד (שֶׁאִם הָיוּ יָדָיו כְּפוּפוֹת לְתוֹךְ הַכַּף – נִמְצָא שֶׁלֹּא נָשָׂא וְהִגְבִּיהַּ כָּל הַיָּד לְגַמְרֵי).

וְאֵין הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר קוֹרֵא "כֹּהֲנִים" אֶלָּא לִשְׁנַיִם,קמה,87 שֶׁהַפָּסוּק "אָמוֹר לָהֶם",3 שֶׁתַּרְגּוּמוֹ "כַּד תֵּמְרוּן לְהוֹן",קמו מַשְׁמָע לִשְׁנַיִם.88 אֲבָל אִם אֵין שָׁם אֶלָּא כֹּהֵן אֶחָד – אֵינוֹ קוֹרֵא לוֹ, אֶלָּא הוּא מֵעַצְמוֹ מַחֲזִיר פָּנָיו וְנוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיוקמז וּמְבָרֵךְקמח קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּשָּׂא כַּפָּיוקמט (וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמִּצַּד עַצְמוֹ אֵינוֹ מְחֻיָּב לִשָּׂא כַּפָּיוקנ כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְעֵילקנא כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵין קוֹרְאִין לוֹ).89 וַאֲפִלּוּ אִם הֵם ב' אֶלָּא שֶׁאֶחָד מֵהֶן קָטָן – אֵין קוֹרְאִים לָהֶם:קנב

16 In some places [the sheliach tzibbur] does not recite the passage Elokeinu v’Elokei avoseinu, barcheinu... at the times when the kohanim bless the people. Instead, when the sheliach tzibbur concludes the blessing Modim, he calls out loudly, “Kohanim!” This call is not considered as an interruption in the prayer since the Priestly Blessing is required for the prayer. In these countries, by contrast, it is customary for the sheliach tzibbur to recite the passage beginning Elokeinu v’Elokei avoseinu in a whisper until he reaches the word kohanim, which he says aloud as a summons to the kohanim. He then says am kedoshecha kaamur (“Your consecrated people, as it is said”) in a whisper.90 For this reason91 this call is not considered as an interruption, because it is being recited in the manner of a blessing and a prayer.

טז יֵשׁ מְקוֹמוֹתקנג שֶׁאֵין אוֹמְרִים "אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ בָּרְכֵנוּ כו'" כְּשֶׁהַכֹּהֲנִים נוֹשְׂאִים כַּפֵּיהֶם, אֶלָּא מִיָּד כְּשֶׁמְּסַיֵּם הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר בִּרְכַּת "מוֹדִים" קוֹרֵא בְּקוֹל רָם "כֹּהֲנִים".קנד וְאֵין קְרִיאָה זוֹ חֲשׁוּבָה הֶפְסֵק בַּתְּפִלָּה, הוֹאִיל וּנְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם הוּא צֹרֶךְ הַתְּפִלָּה.קנה אֲבָל בִּמְדִינוֹת אֵלּוּ נוֹהֲגִיןקנו שֶׁהַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר אוֹמֵר "אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ כו'" בְּלַחַשׁקנז עַד מִלַּת "כֹּהֲנִים" שֶׁאוֹמְרָהּ בְּקוֹל רָם, וְהִיא קְרִיאָה לַכֹּהֲנִים, וְחוֹזֵר וְאוֹמֵר "עַם קְדוֹשֶׁיךָ כָּאָמוּר" בְּלַחַשׁ.90 וּמִפְּנֵי זֶה91 אֵין קְרִיאָה זוֹ חֲשׁוּבָה הֶפְסֵק, כֵּיוָן שֶׁאוֹמְרָהּ בִּלְשׁוֹן בְּרָכָה וּתְפִלָּה:קנח

17 When the kohanim turn to face the people, they [then] recite the blessing:92 “[Blessed are You...] Who has sanctified us with the sanctity of Aharon and commanded us to bless His people Israel with love.”

All [of the kohanim] should recite this blessing — not one, with the others responding Amen — to avert distraction.93

Other authorities94 maintain that [the kohanim] should recite this blessing while they are facing the Ark, before they turn to face [the people]. Some [kohanim] follow the custom of beginning the blessing while they are facing the Ark, turning to face [the people], and then completing the blessing, in order to comply with both views.95

According to all authorities, [the kohanim] should recite the blessing before they raise and spread out their hands, for raising their hands is a fundamental element of (the Scriptural)96 mitzvah and, as an initial preference, one should recite the blessings for all commandments before one begins their performance.97 Turning to face [the people], by contrast — although an absolute necessity, as will be explained — is not an integral element of the mitzvah.98

יז כְּשֶׁמַּחֲזִירִים פְּנֵיהֶם כְּלַפֵּי הָעָםקנט – מְבָרְכִין:קס,92 "אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בִּקְדֻשָּׁתוֹ שֶׁל אַהֲרֹן וְצִוָּנוּ לְבָרֵךְ אֶת עַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּאַהֲבָה".

וְכֻלָּם מְבָרְכִים. וְלֹא יְבָרֵךְ אֶחָד וְהָאֲחֵרִים יַעֲנוּ אָמֵן,קסא מִפְּנֵי הַטֵּרוּף.קסב,93

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםקסג,94 לְבָרֵךְ בְּרָכָה זוֹ כְּשֶׁפְּנֵיהֶם כְּלַפֵּי הַהֵיכָל קֹדֶם שֶׁיַּחֲזִירוּ פְּנֵיהֶם. וְיֵשׁ נוֹהֲגִיןקסד לְהַתְחִיל הַבְּרָכָה כְּשֶׁפְּנֵיהֶם כְּלַפֵּי הַהֵיכָל וּמַחֲזִירִים פְּנֵיהֶם וְגוֹמְרִים, לָצֵאת יְדֵי ב' הַסְּבָרוֹת.קסה,95

וּלְדִבְרֵי הַכֹּלקסו מְבָרְכִין קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּשְׂאוּ וְיִפְרְסוּ כַּפֵּיהֶם, שֶׁנְּשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם הִיא עִקַּר מִצְוַת (הַתּוֹרָה),קסז,96 וְכָל הַמִּצְווֹת מְבָרֵךְ עֲלֵיהֶם עוֹבֵר לְהַתְחָלַת עֲשִׂיָּתָןקסח לְכַתְּחִלָּה.קסט,97 אֲבָל הַחֲזָרַת פְּנֵיהֶם אֵינָהּ מִגּוּף הַמִּצְוָה,98 אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִיא מְעַכֶּבֶת כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר:קע

18 The kohanim do not have to face the sheliach tzibbur. Even if the Ark is positioned in the north, and the [movable] ark before which the sheliach tzibbur stands99 is positioned in the east, the kohanim should stand in front of the [large, fixed] Ark in the north, facing south toward the people. Nevertheless, the presence of an ark is not an absolute necessity for the conferral of the Priestly Blessing. Even in a place where there is no Torah scroll, the kohanim face the people and deliver the blessing.

יח אֵין צָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת פְּנֵי הַכֹּהֲנִים כְּלַפֵּי הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר,קעא אֶלָּא אֲפִלּוּ אִם הַהֵיכָל קָבוּעַ בַּצָּפוֹןקעב וְהַתֵּבָה שֶׁהַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר לְפָנֶיהָ99 הִיא בַּמִּזְרָח – הַכֹּהֲנִים עוֹמְדִים לִפְנֵי הַהֵיכָל בַּצָּפוֹן וּפְנֵיהֶם לַדָּרוֹם כְּלַפֵּי הָעָם. וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם אֵין הַהֵיכָל מְעַכְּבָם כְּלָלקעג בִּנְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם, שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ בִּמְּקוֹם שֶׁאֵין שָׁם סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה הַכֹּהֲנִים מַחֲזִירִים פְּנֵיהֶם כְּלַפֵּי הָעָם וּמְבָרְכִים:

19 Two kohanim who hate each other are allowed to ascend together [to confer the Priestly Blessing]. Neither can tell the other, “You confer it in the Morning Service and I will do so in Mussaf,” or vice versa, because [each one] has the prerogative of doing so in both services.

However, if a kohen hates the congregation or they hate him, it is dangerous for him to deliver the blessing.100 (He should therefore leave the synagogue [before it begins].)101 This is the intent that underlies the wording that the Sages ordained for the [preliminary] blessing: “ bless His people Israel with love.”

יט ב' כֹּהֲנִים הַשּׂוֹנְאִים זֶה אֶת זֶה – מֻתָּרִים לַעֲלוֹת בְּיַחַד. וְאֵין אֶחָד יָכוֹל לוֹמַר לַחֲבֵרוֹ "עֲלֵה אַתָּה בְּשַׁחֲרִית וַאֲנִי בְּמוּסָף" אוֹ לְהִפּוּךְ, כִּי יָכוֹל לוֹמַר "אֲנִי רוֹצֶה לְבָרֵךְ בִּשְׁתֵּיהֶן".קעד אֲבָל כֹּהֵן הַשּׂוֹנֵא אֶת הַצִבּוּר אוֹ הַצִבּוּר שׂוֹנְאִים אוֹתוֹ – סַכָּנָה הִיא לַכֹּהֵן אִם יִשָּׂא אֶת כַּפָּיוקעה,100 (וְלָכֵן יֵצֵא מִבֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶתקעו).101 וְעַל זֶה תִּקְּנוּ בַּבְּרָכָה "לְבָרֵךְ אֶת עַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּאַהֲבָה":קעז

20 After reciting the [preliminary] blessing, before saying Yevarechecha, [the kohanim] should raise their hands to shoulder level,87 for the Priestly Blessing may be recited only with upraised hands.102

They should raise their right hand a little higher than their left hand.103 There is an allusion to this in [the unusual spelling in] the verse,4 “And Aharon raised his hands,” where yadav (“his hands”) is written [in the Torah] without the second yud [that normally indicates the plural].104 They should spread out their hands, for the reason explained above.105

The kohanim customarily separate their fingertips,106 as alluded to in the interpretation by the Midrash107 of the verse, “peering through the windows” — that the Divine Presence rests above their heads and gazes through the spaces between their fingers. It is customary to do this in such a way as to leave five open spaces.108 [The four fingers are divided into two pairs,] a space is left between each pair, and another space is left between the index finger and the thumb. The same is done on the other hand, and a space is left between the thumbs. [See fig. 3.]109 This fulfills the implications of “peering through the windows.”110

Between [the recitation of] one word [of the blessing] and the next, [these kohanim] are permitted to bring their thumbs together (and the same applies to other adjoining fingers [that had been held apart]).111

While reciting the words [of the blessing], some kohanim112 [in contrast to the above custom] make a point of resting [the flexed knuckle of] the right thumb on [the flexed knuckle of] the left thumb, thus forming a kind of [V-shaped] window-frame between [the furthest joints of] the thumbs. [See fig. 6 on page 401.] In this way, [too,] there will be five “windows,” (for the word charakim in the verse means “windows”).

It is customary for [the kohanim] to spread their hands113 in such a way that their palms face the ground and the backs of their hands face the heavens, the opposite of the way hands are raised in prayer.

כ אַחַר הַבְּרָכָה קֹדֶם שֶׁמַּתְחִילִין "יְבָרֶכְךָ" – צְרִיכִים לְהַגְבִּיהַּ יְדֵיהֶם כְּנֶגֶד כִּתְפוֹתֵיהֶם,קעח,87 שֶׁבִּרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים אֵינָהּ נֶאֱמֶרֶת אֶלָּא בִּנְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם.קעט,102

וְיֵשׁ לְהַגְבִּיהַּ יָד הַיְמָנִית קְצָת לְמַעְלָה מֵהַשְּׂמָאלִית,103 וְרֶמֶז לַדָּבָר:4 "וַיִּשָּׂא אַהֲרֹן אֶת יָדָו", כְּתִיב "יָדוֹ".קפ,104

וּפוֹשְׁטִים יְדֵיהֶם, מִטַּעַם שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר.קפא,105

וְנוֹהֲגִים לַחֲלֹק רָאשֵׁי אֶצְבְּעוֹתֵיהֶם,קפב,106 עַל פִּי הַמִּדְרָשׁקפג,107 "מֵצִיץ מִן הַחֲרַכִּים" – שֶׁשְּׁכִינָה לְמַעְלָה מֵרָאשֵׁיהֶם וּמֵצִיץ מִבֵּין חֲרַכֵּי אֶצְבְּעוֹתֵיהֶם. וְנוֹהֲגִין לְכַוֵּן לַעֲשׂוֹת ה' אֲוִירִים:108 בֵּין ב' אֶצְבָּעוֹת לְב' אֶצְבָּעוֹת אֲוִיר אֶחָד, וּבֵין אֶצְבַּע לָאֲגוּדָל, וְכֵן בְּיָד שְׁנִיָּה, וּבֵין גּוּדָּל לַגּוּדָּל,109 לְקַיֵּם מֵצִיץ מִן הַחֲרַכִּים,קפד,110 וּבֵין תֵּבָה לְתֵבָה רַשָּׁאִים לְקָרֵב הָאֲגוּדָלִים זֶה בָּזֶהקפה (וְהוּא הַדִּין שְׁאָר אֶצְבָּעוֹתקפו).111 וְיֵשׁ נִזְהָרִיןקפז,112 בִּשְׁעַת אֲמִירַת הַתֵּבוֹת לְהַנִּיחַ אֲגוּדַל יָמִין עַל שְׂמֹאל שֶׁיִּהְיֶה כְּעֵין חַלּוֹן בֵּינֵיהֶם, כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה ה' חַלּוֹנוֹת (שֶׁ"חֲרַכִּים" הוּא תַּרְגּוּם שֶׁל חַלּוֹנוֹת).

וְנָהֲגוּ לִפְרֹשׂ יְדֵיהֶם113 בְּעִנְיָן שֶׁיִּהְיֶה תּוֹךְ כַּפֵּיהֶם כְּנֶגֶד הָאָרֶץ וַאֲחוֹרֵי יְדֵיהֶם כְּנֶגֶד הַשָּׁמַיִם, הֶפֶךְ מִפְּרִישַׂת יָדַיִם לִתְפִלָּה:קפח

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21 It is a mitzvah to prompt114 each word of the Priestly Blessing for the kohanim, as [is implied by] the words,115 “Say to them: ‘May G‑d bless you....’ ” From this the Sages inferred116 that they should be prompted for every single word.117 For if the verse intended to teach us only [the concept communicated by] the Targum — “when you say to them,” [i.e., they are to deliver the blessing when called]118 — it would not have been appropriate [for the Torah] to write “Say to them” before [the text of] the [Priestly] Blessing. Instead, [this instruction should have appeared] before “So shall you bless [the Children of Israel],” for [the kohanim] are not commanded to recite the blessing unless they are called. Accordingly, the verse implies that even when the obligation to recite the blessing has taken effect, as is the case when the kohanim have been called, it is a mitzvah to prompt the entire blessing for them, word by word, so that they will not err. Nevertheless, this is not an indispensable requirement, as will be stated,119 since the [primary] intent of the verse is that the commandment took effect as soon as they were called.

Some authorities maintain that the kohanim should begin with the word Yevarechecha on their own initiative without being prompted: since it is the first word [of the blessing], there is no need for concern that they will err. (True, the Sages derived the requirement to prompt them with every word [from the exegesis of a verse]. Nevertheless, [it is argued,] for the first word it suffices that they had been summoned — by the call, “Kohanim!” — to recite the blessing. For this call serves to tell them to recite the blessing, and a blessing comprises at least one word. Once they have said the word Yevarechecha, they would have already recited one blessing, thereby fulfilling the initial charge given them. This is why they must still be prompted to say each individual word. Accordingly, if there is only one kohen present and hence he is not called to recite the blessing,120 he must also be prompted for the word Yevarechecha, so that a prompt will be given for every word [of the blessing].)

In these countries, the custom is to follow the first opinion and to prompt the word Yevarechecha as well, in all situations.

כא מִצְוָה לְהַקְרוֹת114 לַכֹּהֲנִיםקפט כָּל תֵּבָה וְתֵבָה,קצ,115 שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:קצא,116 "אָמוֹר לָהֶם יְבָרֶכְךָ וְגוֹמֵר", וְדָרְשׁוּ חֲכָמִיםקצב,117 שֶׁתִּהְיֶה אֲמִירָה לָהֶם עַל כָּל דִּבּוּר וְדִבּוּר,118 שֶׁאִם לֹא בָּא הַכָּתוּב אֶלָּא לְתַרְגּוּמוֹ "כַּד תֵּמְרוֹן לְהוֹן"קצג – לֹא הָיָה רָאוּי לִכְתֹּב "אָמוֹר לָהֶם" לִפְנֵי הַבְּרָכָה אֶלָּא לִפְנֵי "כֹּה תְבָרְכוּ", שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵינָן מְצֻוִּים לְבָרֵךְ אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן קָרְאוּ לָהֶם, אֶלָּא כַּוָּנַת הַכָּתוּב שֶׁאַף אִם חָל עֲלֵיהֶם הַצִּוּוּי לְבָרֵךְ כְּגוֹן שֶׁקָּרְאוּ לָהֶם – מִצְוָה לוֹמַר לָהֶם כָּל הַבְּרָכָה מִלָּה בְּמִלָּה,קצד כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִטְעוּ.קצה וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם אֵין זֶה מְעַכֵּב כְּלָלקצו כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר,קצז,119 כֵּיוָן שֶׁכַּוָּנַת הַכָּתוּב הִיא שֶׁכְּבָר חָל עֲלֵיהֶם הַצִּוּוּי מִשֶּׁקָּרְאוּ לָהֶם.

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםקצח שֶׁתֵּבַת "יְבָרֶכְךָ" מַתְחִילִין הַכֹּהֲנִים מֵעַצְמָם וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לְהַקְרוֹת, שֶׁבְּתֵבָה רִאשׁוֹנָה אֵין לָחֹשׁ לְטָעוּתקצט (וְאַף שֶׁדָּרְשׁוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁתִּהְיֶה אֲמִירָה עַל כָּל דִּבּוּר וְדִבּוּר, מִכָּל מָקוֹם בְּתֵבָה רִאשׁוֹנָה דַּי בָּאֲמִירָה שֶׁאָמְרוּ לָהֶם לְבָרֵךְ, דְּהַיְנוּ כְּשֶׁקָּרְאוּ אוֹתָם "כֹּהֲנִים", שֶׁקְּרִיאָה זוֹ הִיא אֲמִירָה לָהֶם שֶׁיְּבָרְכוּ, וְאֵין בְּרָכָה פְּחוּתָה מִתֵּבָה אַחַת. אֲבָל לְאַחַר שֶׁאָמְרוּ תֵּבַת "יְבָרֶכְךָ" – הֲרֵי בֵּרְכוּ כְּבָר בְּרָכָה אַחַת וְקִיְּמוּ מַה שֶּׁאָמְרוּ לָהֶם לְבָרֵךְ, לָכֵן צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר וְלוֹמַר לָהֶם עַל כָּל דִּבּוּר וְדִבּוּר.ר לְפִיכָךְ אִם הוּא כֹּהֵן אֶחָד שֶׁאֵין קוֹרִין לוֹרא,120 – צָרִיךְ לְהַקְרוֹתוֹ אַף תֵּבַת "יְבָרֶכְךָ", כְּדֵי שֶׁתְּהֵא אֲמִירָה עַל כָּל דִּבּוּר וְדִבּוּררב).

וּבִמְדִינוֹת אֵלּוּ נוֹהֲגִין כַּסְּבָרָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָה, לְהַקְרוֹת אַף תֵּבַת "יְבָרֶכְךָ" בְּכָל עִנְיָן:רג

22 As an initial preference,121 the sheliach tzibbur should be the one who prompts [the kohanim], because the Priestly Blessing is considered as part of Shemoneh Esreh. For this reason it should be [prompted] by the one who is [repeating] Shemoneh Esreh — unless he is a kohen himself, as will be explained.122 For the same reason, the prompting [by the sheliach tzibbur] is not considered an interruption during Shemoneh Esreh.

כב לְכַתְּחִלָּה121 נָכוֹן שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר מַקְרֵא אוֹתָם,רד לְפִי שֶׁבִּרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים הִיא מִכְּלַל הַתְּפִלָּהרה לָכֵן טוֹב שֶׁיֹּאמְרֶנָּה הַמִּתְפַּלֵּל, אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הוּא כֹּהֵן כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר.רו,122 וּמִטַּעַם זֶה גַּם כֵּן אֵין הַקְרָאָתָם אוֹתָם חֲשׁוּבָה הֶפְסֵק בַּתְּפִלָּה:רז

23 [The Priestly] Blessing may be conferred only in the Holy Tongue,123 while standing, in a loud voice, and with raised hands.87 If [the kohanim] deviated with regard to even one of these factors, they have not fulfilled their obligation, even after the fact.124

[The Sages explain the source for these requirements as follows:]

[To recite the blessing] in the Holy Tongue: [This is derived from] the verse,3 “So shall you bless...,” i.e., only in this language.

While standing: [This is derived from] the verse,125 “[G‑d set apart the Tribe of Levi... to stand before G‑d] to serve Him and bless in His name.” Just as the service [in the Beis HaMikdash must be performed] while standing — as it is written,126 “To stand and to serve” — so, too, blessing [is to be conferred] while standing.127 The congregants, however, may sit [during the Priestly Blessing],128 as long as they are facing129 the kohanim.87 [This is derived from the phrase,]3 “Say to them” — i.e., [say the blessing] just as a person talking to a friend speaks to him face to face. (After the fact, however, failure to do so does not invalidate the performance of the mitzvah.130 This is [indicated by the fact] that if all the inhabitants of a town are kohanim, they all go up to confer the Priestly Blessing even though they are not doing so like a person speaking to his friend face to face, as will be explained.)131

In a loud voice: [This is derived from] the phrase,3 “Say to them,” [i.e., the blessing must be articulated in the way] a person speaks to his friend, which is loud enough for him to hear. Here, likewise, [the kohanim] should not whisper the blessing to themselves, but should say it loudly enough to be heard by all the people present.132 As an initial preference, it should be recited in the most desirable of tones, neither overly loud, nor low, but rather of intermediate volume.

כג אֵין מְבָרְכִיןרח אֶלָּא בִּלְשׁוֹן הַקֹּדֶשׁ123 וּבַעֲמִידָה וּבְקוֹל רָם וּבִנְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם.רט,87 וַאֲפִלּוּ בְּדִיעֲבַד לֹא יָצְאוּ אִם שִׁנּוּ בְּאַחַת מֵאֵלֶּה.רי,124

בִּלְשׁוֹן הַקֹּדֶשׁ – שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:ריא,3 "כֹּה תְבָרְכוּ", עַד שֶׁיֹּאמְרוּ בַּלָּשׁוֹן הַזֶּה.ריב

בַּעֲמִידָה – שֶׁנֶּאֱמַרריג:125 "לְשָׁרְתוֹ וּלְבָרֵךְ בִּשְׁמוֹ", מַה שֵּׁרוּת מְעֻמָּד שֶׁנֶּאֱמַרריד,126 "לַעֲמֹד לְשָׁרֵת" – אַף בְּרָכָה מְעֻמָּד.רטו,127

אֲבָל הַצִבּוּר רַשָּׁאִין לֵישֵׁב,רטז,128 רַק שֶׁיִּהְיֶה פְּנֵיהֶם129 נֶגֶד פְּנֵי הַכֹּהֲנִים,ריז,87 שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:3 "אָמוֹר לָהֶם", כְּאָדָם הָאוֹמֵר לַחֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁמְּדַבֵּר עִמּוֹ פָּנִים אֶל פָּנִים (אֲבָל בְּדִיעֲבַד אֵין זֶה מְעַכֵּב,ריח,130 שֶׁהֲרֵי עִיר שֶׁכֻּלָּהּ כֹּהֲנִים כֻּלָּם עוֹלִים לַדּוּכָן אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין מְבָרְכִין כְּאָדָם הָאוֹמֵר לַחֲבֵרוֹ פָּנִים כְּנֶגֶד פָּנִים, כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵרריט).131

בְּקוֹל רָם – שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:3 "אָמוֹר לָהֶם", כְּאָדָם הָאוֹמֵר לַחֲבֵרוֹרכ שֶׁאוֹמֵר לוֹ בְּקוֹל כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּשְׁמַע – אַף כָּאן אֵין אוֹמְרִים הַבְּרָכָה בֵּינָם לְבֵין עַצְמָם בְּלַחַשׁ אֶלָּא עַד שֶׁיִּשְׁמְעוּ כָּל הָעָם אֲשֶׁר יֶשְׁנוֹ פֹּה.רכא,132 וּלְכַתְּחִלָּה צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר בַּמְעֻלֶּה שֶׁבַּקּוֹלוֹת, לֹא גָּדוֹל וְלֹא קָטָן, אֶלָּא בֵּינוֹנִי:רכב

24 The kohanim should respond word by word after the reader until they complete the first verse. The congregants then respond Amen,133 as they also do after the second verse and after the third.134

After this, the sheliach tzibbur begins the blessing Sim Shalom. The kohanim then turn to face the Ark86 and say:42 “Master of the worlds,135 we have performed what You have decreed upon us. Act136 as You have promised us. ‘Look down from Your holy abode, from Heaven, and bless Your people Israel.’ ”137

It is customary [for the kohanim] to prolong their recitation of this prayer until the sheliach tzibbur concludes the blessing Sim Shalom, so that the congregation will be answering Amen to both. If [the kohanim] cannot draw out its recitation so long, they should [also] recite the prayer Adir BaMarom,138 aiming to complete it together with the sheliach tzibbur.

On Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, when the recitation of the passage Hayom te’amtzeinu is [customarily] drawn out with melodies, one authority writes that [the kohanim] should not begin to say Ribon [HaOlamim]135 until [near] the end so that they will complete it together with the sheliach tzibbur.139

כד הַכֹּהֲנִים עוֹנִים אַחַר הַמַּקְרֵא עַל כָּל מִלָּה וּמִלָּהרכג עַד שֶׁיְּסַיְּמוּ פָּסוּק רִאשׁוֹן, וְאָז עוֹנִין הַצִבּוּר אָמֵן.רכד,133 וְכֵן אַחַר פָּסוּק ב'. וְכֵן אַחַר פָּסוּק ג'.רכה,134

וְאַחַר כָּךְ מַתְחִיל הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר "שִׂים שָׁלוֹם", וְאָז הַכֹּהֲנִים מַחֲזִירִים פְּנֵיהֶם לַהֵיכָלרכו,86 וְאוֹמְרִים:42 "רִבּוֹן הָעוֹלָמִים135 עָשִׂינוּ מַה שֶּׁגָּזַרְתָּ עָלֵינוּ, עֲשֵׂה136 אַתָּה מַה שֶּׁהִבְטַחְתָּנוּ, הַשְׁקִיפָה מִמְּעוֹן קָדְשְׁךְ מִן הַשָּׁמַיִם וּבָרֵךְ אֶת עַמְּךָ אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל".רכז,137

וְנוֹהֲגִים לְהַאֲרִיךְ בִּתְפִלָּה זוֹ עַד שֶׁיְּסַיֵּם הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר בִּרְכַּת "שִׂים שָׁלוֹם",רכח כְּדֵי שֶׁיַּעֲנוּ הַצִבּוּר אָמֵן עַל שְׁתֵּיהֶן.רכט וְאִם אֵינָם יְכוֹלִים לְהַאֲרִיךְ כָּל כָּךְ – יֹאמְרוּ "אַדִּיר בַּמָּרוֹם138 כו'",רל וִיכַוְּנוּ לִגְמֹר עִם הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִּבּוּר. וּבְרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה וְיוֹם כִּפּוּר שֶׁמַּאֲרִיכִים בַּנִּגּוּנִים "הַיוֹם תְּאַמְּצֵנוּ" – יֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵררלא שֶׁלֹּא יַתְחִילוּ "רִבּוֹן"135 עַד לְבַסּוֹף, שֶׁיִּגְמְרוּ עִם הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִּבּוּר:139

25 The kohanim are not permitted to turn from the congregation to face the Ark140 until the sheliach tzibbur begins the blessing Sim Shalom.86 They may not curl their fingers — which had been held out straight — in the usual way until they turn away from the congregation. They are not permitted to leave the dais and go [back to their places] until the sheliach tzibbur completes the paragraph beginning Sim Shalom,141 but should stand there with bowed heads142 before the Ark. They should not speak until they step down from the dais.

A certain authority maintains that they should wait before stepping down from the dais until most of the congregants have finished saying Amen in response to the paragraph beginning Sim Shalom. For as long as the majority of those responding have not [done so], the Priestly Blessing has not ended, as stated in sec. 124[:11]. The custom is to follow this view.

כה אֵין הַכֹּהֲנִים רַשָּׁאִים לְהַחֲזִיר פְּנֵיהֶם מִן הַצִבּוּר לַהֵיכָל140 עַד שֶׁיַּתְחִיל הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר "שִׂים שָׁלוֹם".רלב,86 וְאֵינָם רַשָּׁאִים לָכֹף אֶצְבְּעוֹתֵיהֶםרלג מִפְּשִׁיטָתָן לִהְיוֹת כִּשְׁאָר בְּנֵי אָדָםרלד עַד שֶׁיַּחֲזִירוּ פְּנֵיהֶם מִן הַצִּבּוּר. וְאֵינָם רַשָּׁאִים לַעֲבֹר מִן הַדּוּכָן וְלֵילֵךְ עַד שֶׁיְּסַיֵּם שְׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר בִּרְכַּת "שִׂים שָׁלוֹם",רלה,141 אֶלָּא עוֹמְדִים שָׁם כְּפוּפִים142 לִפְנֵי הַהֵיכָל.רלו וְלֹא יְדַבְּרוּ עַד שֶׁיֵּרְדוּ מִן הַדּוּכָן.רלז

וְיֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵררלח שֶׁצְּרִיכִים לְהַמְתִּין מִלֵּירֵד עַד שֶׁיִּכְלֶה אָמֵן מִפִּי רֹב הַצִבּוּר אַחַר בִּרְכַּת "שִׂים שָׁלוֹם", שֶׁכָּל שֶׁלֹּא כָּלְתָה עֲנִיַּת אָמֵן מִפִּי רֹברלט הָעוֹנִים – עֲדַיִן לֹא נִסְתַּיְּמָה הַבְּרָכָהרמ כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן קכ"ד.רמא וְכֵן הַמִּנְהָג:רמב

26 Whenever [the kohanim] turn around — whether at the outset, when after facing the Ark they turn to face the congregation, or at the end, when they turn back to face the Ark — they should only turn to the right. Thus if at the outset they are facing east,143 they should turn towards the south and then to the west, where they will be facing the congregation. And when they turn back to face the Ark, they should turn to the north, which was to their right when they were facing the congregation in the west.144

כו כְּשֶׁמַּחֲזִירִים פְּנֵיהֶם, בֵּין בַּתְּחִלָּה שֶׁמַּחֲזִירִים פְּנֵיהֶם מִן הַהֵיכָל כְּלַפֵּי הָעָם בֵּין בַּסּוֹף שֶׁמַּחֲזִירִים פְּנֵיהֶם מִן הַצִבּוּר לַהֵיכָל – לֹא יַחֲזִירוּ אֶלָּא דֶּרֶךְ יָמִין,רמג שֶׁכְּשֶׁעוֹמְדִים תְּחִלָּה וּפְנֵיהֶם לַמִּזְרָח143 – יִפְנוּ לְצַד דָּרוֹם וְאַחַר כָּךְ לַמַּעֲרָב נֶגֶד הַצִּבּוּר, וּבַחֲזָרָתָם לַמִּזְרָח – יִפְנוּ לְצַד צָפוֹן שֶׁהוּא יְמִינָם כְּשֶׁפְּנֵיהֶם כְּלַפֵּי הַצִבּוּר לַמַּעֲרָב:רמד,144

27 When [the kohanim] step down from the dais, they should not turn their backs to the Ark.145 Instead, they should back away with their faces turned somewhat to the Ark, like a disciple who, when taking leave of his mentor, faces him as he departs.

After they depart, they should be careful not to touch their shoes that are soiled. If they touch them, they should wash their hands in readiness for the prayers they will recite afterwards. Even if [the shoes] are not soiled, [the kohanim] must wash their hands if they touched them, because of the danger [arising from] a spirit of impurity, as stated in sec. 4.146

כז כְּשֶׁיּוֹרְדִין מִן הַדּוּכָן – לֹא יַחֲזִירוּ אֲחוֹרֵיהֶם לַהֵיכָל,145 אֶלָּא יְצַדְּדוּ וְיַחֲזִירוּ פְּנֵיהֶם קְצָת לַהֵיכָל, כְּתַלְמִיד הַנִּפְטָר מֵרַבּוֹרמה שֶׁמַּחֲזִיר פָּנָיו אֵלָיו בְּצֵאתוֹ מִלְּפָנָיו.

וְאַחַר שֶׁיָּרְדוּ – יִזָּהֲרוּ שֶׁלֹּא יִגְּעוּ בְּמִנְעֲלֵיהֶם הַמְטֻנָּפִים. וְאִם נָגְעוּ – יִטְּלוּ יְדֵיהֶם לִתְפִלָּה שֶׁיִּתְפַּלְלוּ אַחַר כָּךְ.רמו וְאַף אִם אֵינָם מְטֻנָּפִים – צְרִיכִים לִטֹּל יְדֵיהֶם אִם נָגְעוּ בָּהֶן, מִפְּנֵי סַכָּנַת רוּחַ רָעָה,רמז כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן ד':רמח,146

28 In those places where the passage Elokeinu v’Elokei avoseinu, barcheinu... is not recited whenever the kohanim bless the people,147 the reader is not permitted to call out “Kohanim!” until (most of) the congregants have finished saying Amen in response to the blessing Modim.86 (The rationale is that until (most of) the congregants have finished saying Amen, the kohanim cannot possibly hear the call being made for them, for two voices cannot be heard simultaneously.)

The kohanim are not permitted to begin the recitation of the blessing “...Who has sanctified us with the sanctity of Aharon...” until the end of the reader’s call, “Kohanim!”86

After the kohanim conclude the blessing, “...Who has sanctified us with the sanctity of Aharon...,” they are not permitted to begin to say the word Yevarechecha until all the congregants have finished responding Amen to the [above] blessing. Even if there are (some) few congregants who mistakenly draw out the Amen at such length that even after the reader has already finished saying the word Yevarechecha — in these countries where the reader customarily prompts [that first word] too148 — they have not yet finished saying Amen, [the kohanim] must wait for them.149 The rationale is that all the congregants present are obligated to hear the whole of the Priestly Blessing from the kohanim, as explained above.150 The prompter, by contrast, need wait only until most of the congregants have finished responding Amen, for they are not obligated to hear him; only the kohanim are. (Nevertheless, the kohanim will not be able to hear the prompter until most of the congregants have finished saying Amen, because two voices cannot be heard simultaneously.)

However, some authorities maintain that even the person who calls out “Kohanim!” must wait until all the congregants have finished saying Amen in response to the blessing Modim. Similarly, the reader must wait until all the congregants finish saying Amen in response to the blessing, “...Who has sanctified us with the sanctity of Aharon....” For if he would call out “Kohanim!” or prompt the kohanim while some of the congregants were still drawing out their response of Amen, the kohanim would not hear his call or his prompting, because two voices cannot be heard simultaneously. It is desirable to give weight to their words.

כח אֵין הַקּוֹרֵא "כֹּהֲנִים" רַשַּׁאי לִקְרוֹת "כֹּהֲנִים"רמט עַד שֶׁיִּכְלֶה מִפִּי (רֹברנ) הַצִבּוּר אָמֵן שֶׁעוֹנִים אַחַר בִּרְכַּת "מוֹדִים",רנא,86 בַּמְּקוֹמוֹת שֶׁאֵין אוֹמְרִים "אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ בָּרְכֵנוּ כו'" כְּשֶׁהַכֹּהֲנִים נוֹשְׂאִים כַּפֵּיהֶםרנב,147 (שֶׁעַד שֶׁיִּכְלֶה אָמֵן מִפִּי (רֹב) הַצִבּוּר – אִי אֶפְשָׁר לַכֹּהֲנִים לִשְׁמֹעַ קְרִיאָתוֹ אוֹתָם, שֶׁב' קוֹלוֹת כְּאֶחָד אֵינָם נִשְׁמָעִיםרנג).86

וְאֵין הַכֹּהֲנִים רַשָּׁאִים לְהַתְחִיל בִּרְכַּת "אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בִּקְדֻשָּׁתוֹ שֶׁל אַהֲרֹן", עַד שֶׁיִּכְלֶה דִּבּוּר קְרִיאַת כֹּהֲנִים מִפִּי הַקּוֹרֵא.רנד

וְאַחַר שֶׁבֵּרְכוּ הַכֹּהֲנִים "אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בִּקְדֻשָּׁתוֹ שֶׁל אַהֲרֹן" – אֵינָם רַשָּׁאִים לְהַתְחִיל "יְבָרֶכְךָ" עַד שֶׁיִּכְלֶה מִפִּי כָּל הַצִבּוּררנה אָמֵן שֶׁעוֹנִים אַחַר בִּרְכַּת "אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בִּקְדֻשָּׁתוֹ שֶׁל אַהֲרֹן". וְאַף אִם יֵשׁ בַּצִבּוּר (אֵיזֶה) קְצָת שֶׁטּוֹעִים וּמַאֲרִיכִים בְּאָמֵן יוֹתֵר מִדַּאי,רנו בְּעִנְיָן שֶׁאַף שֶׁלְּאַחַר שֶׁכָּלְתָה תֵּבַת "יְבָרֶכְךָ" מִפִּי הַמַּקְרֵא בִּמְדִינוֹת אֵלּוּ שֶׁקּוֹרִין גַּם תֵּבַת "יְבָרֶכְךָ"רנז,148 עֲדַיִן לֹא כָּלְתָה אָמֵן מִפִּיהֶם – צָרִיךְ לְהַמְתִּין עֲלֵיהֶם,149 לְפִי שֶׁהוּא חִיּוּב עַל כָּל הָעָם אֲשֶׁר יֶשְׁנוֹ פֹּה לִשְׁמֹעַ כָּל הַבְּרָכָה מִפִּי הַכֹּהֲנִים, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָה.רנח,150 אֲבָל הַמַּקְרֵא אֵין צָרִיךְ לְהַמְתִּין אֶלָּא עַד שֶׁיִּכְלֶה אָמֵן מִפִּי רֹב הַצִּבּוּר, שֶׁאֵין חוֹבָה כְּלָל עַל הַצִבּוּר לִשְׁמֹעַ מֵהַמַּקְרֵארנט אֶלָּא עַל הַכֹּהֲנִיםרס (וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּכְלֶה אָמֵן מִפִּי רֹב הַצִבּוּר אִי אֶפְשָׁר לַכֹּהֲנִים לִשְׁמֹעַ מִן הַמַּקְרֵא, שֶׁב' קוֹלוֹת אֵינָם נִשְׁמָעִים).

וְיֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵררסא שֶׁגַּם הַקּוֹרֵא כֹּהֲנִים צָרִיךְ לְהַמְתִּין עַד שֶׁיִּכְלֶה מִפִּי כָּל הַצִבּוּר אָמֵן שֶׁל בִּרְכַּת "מוֹדִים". וְכֵן הַמַּקְרֵא צָרִיךְ לְהַמְתִּין עַד שֶׁיִּכְלֶה מִפִּי כָּל הַצִבּוּר אָמֵן שֶׁל בִּרְכַּת "אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ", שֶׁאִם יִקְרָא כֹּהֲנִים אוֹ מַקְרֵא אוֹתָם בְּעוֹד שֶׁקְּצָת מַאֲרִיכִין בְּאָמֵן – לֹא יִשְׁמְעוּ הַכֹּהֲנִים קְרִיאָתוֹ לָהֶם אוֹ הַקְרָאָתוֹ אוֹתָם, שֶׁב' קוֹלוֹת אֵינָן נִשְׁמָעִין. וְטוֹב לָחוּשׁ לְדִבְרֵיהֶם:

29 The kohanim are not permitted to begin a word until the reader has finished prompting it.151 ([This enables] the congregants to hear the word distinctly from the kohanim, unconfused by what they hear from the reader.)

The congregants should not respond Amen until the kohanim have finished delivering the Priestly Blessing.86 This applies equally to each of its three verses.

The sheliach tzibbur may not begin the paragraph beginning Sim Shalom until most of the congregants have finished saying Amen [in response to the third verse of the Priestly Blessing]. If a minority of the congregants draw out [that response], he is not required to wait for them, as explained in sec. 124[:12].

As soon as [the sheliach tzibbur] begins the blessing Sim Shalom, the kohanim recite the passage beginning Ribon HaOlamim.152

כט אֵין הַכֹּהֲנִים רַשָּׁאִים לְהַתְחִיל בַּתֵּבָה עַד שֶׁתִּכְלֶה הַתֵּבָה מִפִּי הַמַּקְרֵארסב,151 (כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּשְׁמְעוּ הַצִבּוּר הַתֵּבָה יָפֶה מִפִּי הַכֹּהֲנִים וְלֹא תִּתְעָרֵב בָּהּ שְׁמִיעָתָם מֵהַמַּקְרֵא).

וְאֵין הַצִבּוּר עוֹנִין אָמֵן עַד שֶׁתִּכְלֶה בְּרָכָה מִפִּי הַכֹּהֲנִים,רסג,86 בֵּין בְּפָסוּק רִאשׁוֹן, בֵּין בְּפָסוּק ב' אוֹ ג'.רסד

וְאֵין הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר רַשַּׁאי לְהַתְחִיל "שִׂים שָׁלוֹם" עַד שֶׁיִּכְלֶה אָמֵן מִפִּי רֹב הַצִּבּוּר. אֲבָל אִם יֵשׁ מִעוּט שֶׁמַּאֲרִיכִין בָּאָמֵן – אֵין צָרִיךְ לְהַמְתִּין עֲלֵיהֶם,רסה כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן קכ"ד.רסו

וּמִיָּד שֶׁמַּתְחִיל "שִׂים שָׁלוֹם" – אוֹמְרִים הַכֹּהֲנִים "רִבּוֹן הָעוֹלָמִים":רסז,152

30 The sheliach tzibbur may not say Amen in response to (the end of) the Priestly Blessing, because of the possibility of distraction: he might become confused and not be able to focus on [resuming his repetition of Shemoneh Esreh with] the paragraph beginning Sim Shalom. By concentrating appropriately on the response of Amen, he will have diverted his attention [from his repetition of Shemoneh Esreh] to another matter and will not be able to swiftly return to [it], and may err. In contrast, when he does not respond Amen, he concentrates on his [recitation of] Shemoneh Esreh while the congregants are responding Amen.

However, he need not be concerned that the Amen recited in response to the Priestly Blessing constitutes an interruption [in Shemoneh Esreh], for the Priestly Blessing is part of that prayer.

[Hence,] if [the sheliach tzibbur] is confident that he will be able to resume his repetition of Shemoneh Esreh without risk of confusion, he may [respond Amen] — though one authority forbids this. The first opinion should be accorded primacy, particularly in the present era when we pray from Siddurim,153 and thus there is not so much reason to be concerned about a possible error.154

ל אֵין הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר רַשַּׁאי לַעֲנוֹת אָמֵן אַחַר (סִיּוּם) בְּרָכָה שֶׁל כֹּהֲנִים, מִפְּנֵי הַטֵּרוּף שֶׁמָּא תִּתְבַּלְבֵּל דַּעְתּוֹ וְלֹא יוּכַל לְכַוֵּן לַחֲזֹר לְבִרְכַּת "שִׂים שָׁלוֹם",רסח שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁהוּא מְכַוֵּן בַּעֲנִיַּת אָמֵן כָּרָאוּי – הִסִּיחַ דַּעְתּוֹ לְמַחֲשָׁבָה אַחֶרֶת וְלֹא יוּכַל לַחֲזֹר מַהֵר לִתְפִלָּתוֹ וְיִטְעֶה, מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן כְּשֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹנֶה אָמֵן הוּא נוֹתֵן דַּעְתּוֹ עַל תְּפִלָּתוֹ בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהַצִבּוּר עוֹנִין.רסט

אֲבָל מִפְּנֵי הֶפְסֵק בַּתְּפִלָּה אֵין לָחוּשׁ בְּאָמֵן שֶׁאַחַר בִּרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים, לְפִי שֶׁבִּרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים מִכְּלַל הַתְּפִלָּה הוּא.ער

וְאִם מֻבְטָח בְּעַצְמוֹ שֶׁיַּחֲזֹר לִתְפִלָּתוֹ בְּלֹא טֵרוּף הַדַּעַת – רַשַּׁאי.רעא וְיֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹסֵר.ערב וְהָעִקָּר כַּסְּבָרָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָה.רעג וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן עַכְשָׁו שֶׁמִּתְפַּלְלִין מִתּוֹךְ הַסֵּפֶר,153 שֶׁאֵין לָחוּשׁ כָּל כָּךְ לְטָעוּת:עדר,154

31 Similarly, the person who prompts the kohanim — whether the sheliach tzibbur or another congregant — should not respond Amen at the end of the first or second verse of the Priestly Blessing. [Otherwise,] it is possible that he will be unable to quickly focus his attention and know how to begin the next verse, for he may lose track of which verse he must prompt, the second or the third.

By contrast, after the [preliminary] blessing, “...Who has sanctified us with the holiness of Aharon...,” there is an authority who allows [the prompter] to respond Amen. This applies even according to our custom, whereby the word Yevarechecha is also prompted,148 since in such a situation there is no need whatever for concern that [the prompter] will forget the beginning of the Priestly Blessing. We are concerned only that he will interchange the second blessing and the third. (At the beginning of the Priestly Blessing there is no need for concern about such an error. Indeed, this is why in some places the word Yevarechecha is not prompted148 — because [in that first verse] there is no concern for error. Even according to our custom, where it is prompted,148 that is not because of a concern that [the kohanim] will err, but because our Sages extrapolated that [the kohanim] must be “spoken to” before each word, as explained above.)148

Even if the prompter is the sheliach tzibbur, saying Amen [in response to the preliminary blessing] is not considered as an interruption in Shemoneh Esreh, because it is a required component of that prayer. For the Priestly Blessing is part of Shemoneh Esreh and the Priestly Blessing may not be conferred without its introductory blessing.

If [a sheliach tzibbur] is confident that he will be able to focus his attention quickly and know which verse he should prompt, he is permitted to say Amen in response to the first or second verse [of the Priestly Blessing]. This applies particularly in the present era,155 when the prompter reads [the words of the Priestly Blessing] from a Siddur.156

לא וְכֵן הַמַּקְרֵא אֶת הַכֹּהֲנִים, בֵּין שֶׁהוּא שְׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר בֵּין אַחֵרערה – לֹא יַעֲנֶה אָמֵן אַחַר סִיּוּם פָּסוּק א' אוֹ ב' שֶׁל בִּרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים, שֶׁמָּא לֹא יוּכַל לְכַוֵּן מַהֵר לָדַעַת לְהַתְחִיל פָּסוּק שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֶיהָ, שֶׁיִּתְעַלֵּם מִמֶּנּוּ אֵיזוֹ פָּסוּק יֵשׁ לוֹ לְהַקְרוֹת אִם ב' אוֹ ג'.רעו

אֲבָל אַחַר בִּרְכַּת "אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בִּקְדֻשָּׁתוֹ שֶׁל אַהֲרֹן" יֵשׁ מִי שֶׁמַּתִּיררעז לַעֲנוֹת אָמֵן אֲפִלּוּ לְפִי מִנְהָגֵנוּרעח שֶׁקּוֹרִין גַּם תֵּבַת "יְבָרֶכְךָ",148 לְפִי שֶׁזֶּה אֵין לָחוּשׁ כְּלָל שֶׁיִּתְעַלֵּם מִמֶּנּוּ תְּחִלַּת הַבְּרָכָה, וְאֵין חוֹשְׁשִׁין אֶלָּא שֶׁמָּא יִתְחַלֵּף לוֹ פָּסוּק ב' בְּג' (אֲבָל בִּתְחִלַּת הַבְּרָכָה אֵין לָחוּשׁ לְזֶה, שֶׁמִּטַּעַם זֶה יֵשׁ מְקוֹמוֹת שֶׁאֵין מַקְרִין כְּלָל תֵּבַת "יְבָרֶכְךָ"148 מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין לָחוּשׁ בָּהּ לְטָעוּת. וְאַף לְמִנְהָגֵנוּ שֶׁמַּקְרִין אוֹתָהּ – אֵינוֹ מִשּׁוּם חֲשַׁשׁ טָעוּת, אֶלָּא מִשּׁוּם שֶׁדָּרְשׁוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת אֲמִירָה עַל כָּל דִּבּוּר וְדִבּוּר, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָהרעט).148

וַאֲפִלּוּ הוּא שְׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר – אֵין אָמֵן זֶה חָשׁוּב לוֹ הֶפְסֵק בַּתְּפִלָּה, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא צֹרֶךְ הַתְּפִלָּה, שֶׁנְּשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם הוּא מִכְּלַל הַתְּפִלָּהרפ וְאִי אֶפְשָׁר לִנְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם בְּלֹא בְּרָכָה שֶׁלְּפָנָיו, וְאִם הוּא מֻבְטָח שֶׁיּוּכַל לְכַוֵּן מַהֵר לָדַעַת אֵיזֶה פָּסוּק יֵשׁ לוֹ לְהַקְרוֹת – רַשַּׁאי לַעֲנוֹת אָמֵן אַחַר פָּסוּק א' אוֹ ב', וּבִפְרָט עַכְשָׁו155 שֶׁמַּקְרִין מִתּוֹךְ הַסֵּפֶר:רפא,156

32 Similarly, if the sheliach tzibbur is a kohen, he should not deliver the Priestly Blessing157 even if there are no other kohanim present. [This safeguard was instituted] lest he become confused and be unable to return to [his repetition of] Shemoneh Esreh and to focus on beginning [the next paragraph that begins] Sim Shalom, because his concentration is disoriented by his awe of the congregation. However, if he is confident that he can recite the Priestly Blessing and resume [his repetition of] She­moneh Esreh without becoming confused, if no other kohen is present he should recite the Priestly Blessing so that it will not lapse.

How should this be done? [As he begins to say] Retzeh, he should move somewhat from his place158 [in the direction of] the dais,159 and [continue with his repetition of Shemoneh Esreh] until he reaches the Priestly Blessing — for any kohen who does not leave his place during [that paragraph] in order to ascend the dais may not ascend later.160 When he reaches the Priestly Blessing he should leave his place entirely,161 ascend the dais,162 and recite the Priestly Blessing.163 A fellow congregant should prompt him with [the words of] the Priestly Blessing, but should not call out “Kohanim!” or “Kohen!” — for a call is only addressed to two [or more kohanim], as explained above.164 For this reason, the prompter should not recite the passage Elokeinu v’Elokei avoseinu, barcheinu...: since he is not calling the kohanim with this request, it has no connection to him. Instead, it should be recited by the sheliach tzibbur [himself], as is done whenever the Priestly Blessing is not recited.165 For this request is a component of Shemoneh Esreh, and it is therefore not considered as an interruption within it, as stated above.147 After completing the Priestly Blessing, [the sheliach tzibbur] should return to his place and conclude [the repetition of Shemoneh Esreh with the paragraph beginning] Sim Shalom.

If the prompter concentrated on the [repetition of] Shemoneh Esreh by the sheliach tzibbur from beginning to end and did not speak in the middle, it is preferable that he replace the sheliach tzibbur166 in front of the [lectern],167 [doing so] directly after saying naeh lehodos.168 In such an instance, he should say Elokeinu v’Elokei avoseinu, barcheinu...and proceed to prompt [the kohen with the words of] the Priestly Blessing. [Finally, while standing] there, he should conclude [the repetition of Shemoneh Esreh with the paragraph beginning] Sim Shalom. ([The repetition of] Shemoneh Esreh will thus not be interrupted [during the time it takes] the sheliach tzibbur to walk from the dais [where he recited the Priestly Blessing] to his place before the [lectern].)

When a prompter [replaces the sheliach tzibbur and] concludes [the repetition of Shemoneh Esreh with the paragraph beginning] Sim Shalom, some authorities maintain that the sheliach tzibbur should recite the Priestly Blessing even if he is not certain that he will be able to return [and complete] Shemoneh Esreh.169 This applies only if the prompter is confident (that he will be able to resume [the repetition with the paragraph beginning] Sim Shalom), and also that he will be able to concentrate on [the repetition of] Shemoneh Esreh by the sheliach tzibbur until Sim Shalom, without being disturbed by the fact that he will have to prompt [the words of the Priestly Blessing for] the sheliach tzibbur. Some authorities, however, disallow this unless the sheliach tzibbur is [also] confident [that he will be able to concentrate on the conclusion of Shemoneh Esreh recited by the prompter].170 Nevertheless, now that people read the prayers from Siddurim, everyone can be considered as confident.

If, by contrast, the prompter did not concentrate on [the repetition of] Shemoneh Esreh by the sheliach tzibbur from beginning to end, or if he spoke in the interim, he may not conclude [it] with the blessing Sim Shalom [in place of the sheliach tzibbur]. For as an initial preference, the laws pertaining to the repetition of Shemoneh Esreh by the sheliach tzibbur are the same as those pertaining to the whispered Shemoneh Esreh. [In that instance,] when a person is required to repeat one of the blessings of Shemoneh Esreh, he is required to recite them all in the correct sequence, as explained in sec. 119[:4]. The same applies with regard to the seven blessings [of Shemoneh Esreh] recited on Shabbos and festivals. When he listened attentively to the Shemoneh Esreh recited by the sheliach tzibbur, it is considered as if he recited it by himself, for listening [to a prayer] is considered equivalent to reciting it.171 If, however, he speaks in the interim, he forfeits what he has already heard. If he were reciting a whispered Shemoneh Esreh, he would have to return to the beginning, as explained in sec. 114[:9].172 Similarly, if in the midst [of the repetition by the sheliach tzibbur], his attention was diverted to other matters, he is missing [the part] he did not hear. [Hence] he should not conclude with the blessing Sim Shalom, since it is possible for the sheliach tzibbur to conclude [the Shemoneh Esreh himself].

If, however, a sheliach tzibbur erred and did not know how to continue [Shemoneh Esreh] and another person replaced him, the Sages did not require him to begin at the beginning of the Shemoneh Esreh,173 so as not to burden the congregation.174 Instead, he should begin at the point at which the [first] sheliach tzibbur erred, as explained in sec. 126[:2].

לב וְכֵן שְׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר שֶׁהוּא כֹּהֵן אֲפִלּוּ אֵין שָׁם כֹּהֲנִים אֲחֵרִים – לֹא יִשָּׂא כַּפָּיו,רפב,157 מִפְּנֵי הַטֵּרוּף שֶׁמָּא לֹא יוּכַל לַחֲזֹר לִתְפִלָּתוֹ לָדַעַת לְכַוֵּן וּלְהַתְחִיל בְּ"שִׂים שָׁלוֹם", שֶׁדַּעְתּוֹ מְטֹרֶפֶת מֵאֵימַת הַצִבּוּר.רפג וְאִם הוּא מֻבְטָח בְּעַצְמוֹ שֶׁהוּא נוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו וְחוֹזֵר לִתְפִלָּתוֹרפד בְּלֹא טֵרוּף דַּעַת, אִם אֵין שָׁם כֹּהֵן אֶלָּא הוּא – יִשָּׂא כַּפָּיו, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא תִּתְבַּטֵּל נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם.רפה

וְכֵיצַד יַעֲשֶׂה? יַעֲקֹר רַגְלָיו מְעַט בָּ"עֲבוֹדָה"158 לַעֲלוֹת לַדּוּכָןרפו,159 וְיֹאמַר עַד בִּרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים, שֶׁכָּל כֹּהֵן שֶׁאֵין עוֹקֵר רַגְלָיו בָּ"עֲבוֹדָה" לַעֲלוֹת לַדּוּכָן – שׁוּב אֵינוֹ עוֹלֶה.רפז,160 וּכְשֶׁיַּגִּיעַ לְבִרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים – יַעֲקֹר מִמְּקוֹמוֹ לְגַמְרֵי161 וְיַעֲלֶה לַדּוּכָן162 וִיבָרֵךְ בִּרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים,163 וְאַחֵר יִהְיֶה מַקְרֵא אוֹתוֹ בִּרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים,רפח אֲבָל לֹא יִקְרָא לוֹ כֹּהֲנִים אוֹ כֹּהֵן,רפט שֶׁאֵין קוֹרְאִים אֶלָּא לִשְׁנַיִם כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָה,רצ,164 וְלָכֵן לֹא יֹאמַר הַמַּקְרֵא "אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ בָּרְכֵנוּ כו'", שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵינוֹ קוֹרֵא כֹּהֲנִים בְּבַקָּשָׁה זוֹ אֵין עִנְיָן לְהַמַּקְרֵא, אֶלָּא יֹאמְרֶנָּה הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר כְּמוֹ שֶׁאוֹמְרִים בְּכָל הַיָּמִים שֶׁאֵין בָּהֶם נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם,רצא,165 שֶׁבַּקָּשָׁה זוֹ מִכְּלַל הַתְּפִלָּה, שֶׁלָּכֵן אֵינָהּ חֲשׁוּבָה הֶפְסֵק כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָה,רצב,147 וְאַחַר שֶׁיִּגְמֹר בִּרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים – יַחֲזֹר לִמְקוֹמוֹ וִיסַיֵּם "שִׂים שָׁלוֹם".רצג

וְאִם הַמַּקְרֵא כִּוֵּן לִבּוֹ לִתְפִלַּת הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר מֵרֹאשׁ וְעַד סוֹף וְלֹא שָׂח בָּאֶמְצַערצד – יוֹתֵר טוֹב שֶׁיַּעֲמֹד הַמַּקְרֵא לִפְנֵי הַתֵּבָה167 בִּמְקוֹם הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר166 מִיָּד אַחַר "נָאֶה לְהוֹדוֹת",168 וְיֹאמַר "אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ בָּרְכֵנוּ כו'", וְיִהְיֶה מַקְרֵא אוֹתוֹ, וִיסַיֵּם הוּא שָׁם "שִׂים שָׁלוֹם"רצה (כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא תִּהְיֶה הַתְּפִלָּה מֻפְסֶקֶת בַּהֲלִיכַת הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר מֵהַדּוּכָן לִמְקוֹמוֹ לִפְנֵי הַתֵּבָה).רצו

וּכְשֶׁהַמַּקְרֵא מְסַיֵּם "שִׂים שָׁלוֹם" – יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםרצז שֶׁיִּשָּׂא הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר אֶת כַּפָּיו אֲפִלּוּ אֵינוֹ מֻבְטָח לַחֲזֹר לִתְפִלָּתוֹ,169 וְהוּא שֶׁהַמַּקְרֵא הוּא מֻבְטָח (לַחֲזֹר לְ"שִׂים שָׁלוֹם"), וְגַם שֶׁיּוּכַל לְכַוֵּן לִתְפִלַּת הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר עַד "שִׂים שָׁלוֹם", וְלֹא יַטְרִידֶנּוּ מַה שֶּׁיִּצְטָרֵךְ לְהַקְרוֹת לִשְׁלִיחַ צִּבּוּר. וְיֵשׁ אוֹסְרִיןרחצ עַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר מֻבְטָח.170 אַךְ עַכְשָׁו שֶׁמִּתְפַּלְלִין מִתּוֹךְ הַסֵּפֶר – הַכֹּל מֻבְטָחִים.רצט

אֲבָל אִם לֹא כִּוֵּן הַמַּקְרֵא לִתְפִלַּת הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר מֵרֹאשׁ וְעַד סוֹף אוֹ שֶׁשָּׂח בָּאֶמְצַע – אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְסַיֵּם "שִׂים שָׁלוֹם",ש שֶׁלְּכַתְּחִלָּה דִּין חֲזָרַת הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר כְּדִין תְּפִלַּת לַחַשׁ, שֶׁמִּי שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר וְלוֹמַר בְּרָכָה אַחַת מִי"ח צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר כֻּלָּן עַל הַסֵּדֶר כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן קי"ט,שא וְהוּא הַדִּין בְּשֶׁבַע שֶׁל שַׁבָּת וְיו"ט, וּכְשֶׁכִּוֵּן לִתְפִלַּת הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר – הֲרֵי זֶה כְּאִלּוּ הִתְפַּלֵּל בְּעַצְמוֹ,171 שֶׁשּׁוֹמֵעַ כְּעוֹנֶה,שב וּכְשֶׁשָּׂח בָּאֶמְצַע – הֲרֵי הִפְסִיד מַה שֶּׁשָּׁמַע כְּבָר, וְצָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר לָרֹאשׁ אִם הָיָה כֵּן בִּתְפִלַּת לַחַשׁ כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן קי"ד,שג,172 וְכֵן אִם בָּאֶמְצַע פָּנָה לְבָבוֹ לִדְבָרִים אֲחֵרִים – הֲרֵי הִפְסִיד מַה שֶּׁלֹּא שָׁמַע,דש וְאֵין לוֹ לְסַיֵּם "שִׂים שָׁלוֹם", כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁיְּסַיֵּם הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר.שה

אֲבָל שְׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר שֶׁטָּעָה וְאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ לַחֲזֹר וְעוֹבֵר אַחֵר תַּחְתָּיו – לֹא הִצְרִיכוּהוּ לַחֲזֹר לְרֹאשׁ הַתְּפִלָּהשו,173 מִפְּנֵי טֹרַח הַצִּבּוּר,174 אֶלָּא חוֹזֵר לַמָּקוֹם שֶׁטָּעָה הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן קכ"ו:שז

33 All the above applies when no other kohen is present. Only then was license granted for [the sheliach tzibbur] to move from his place in [the midst of] Shemoneh Esreh in order that the conferral of the Priestly Blessing should not lapse, for the Sages ordained that it should be recited in every appropriate prayer service, as explained above.175 When there are other kohanim present who are fit to recite it, even if the sheliach tzibbur is confident that he will be able to resume [the recitation of] She­moneh Esreh without being confused, he is not permitted to move from his place to deliver the Priestly Blessing.

The congregation should take heed not to tell him to ascend the dais [to deliver that blessing] or to wash his hands. If — during the paragraph beginning Retzeh or before that — they do tell him, he must ascend (even if he is not certain [that he will not be confused]), for he transgresses a positive commandment if he does not ascend [for the Priestly Blessing].176 And because of the possibility that he will be confused and confounded during Shemoneh Esreh, he should not violate a positive commandment, for [the recitation of Shemoneh Esreh] is of Rabbinic origin.177

(If, however, he is unable [to recite that blessing], he does not violate any commandment, even if he is in the synagogue at the time of the call, “Kohanim!” [The rationale is that] the person who makes that announcement does not intend to call the sheliach tzibbur at all, for he is forbidden to move from his place. And whenever the announcer does not have [a particular kohen] in mind, [that kohen] does not transgress even if he is in the synagogue, such as when he stands hidden behind the pillars of the synagogue so that the announcer will not see him, for the announcer is presumably addressing only the kohanim who are visible and known to him. Without doubt, this [exemption] applies to the sheliach tzibbur, for certainly the announcer does not have him in mind, but only the other kohanim.

Even if [the person making the announcement] did have the sheliach tzibbur in mind, the sheliach tzibbur has not transgressed at all. [The rationale is that] since he did not move from his place during the paragraph beginning Retzeh, the Sages barred him [from reciting that blessing] — for the Sages are authorized to uproot a Scriptural [commandment] when the person involved remains passive and refrains from action.178 True, it is forbidden to cause a Scriptural commandment to lapse,179 and thus [the sheliach tzibbur] should have moved from his place in the course of the paragraph beginning Retzeh, for he knew that the kohanim would be called, as explained above.176 Nevertheless, this prohibition is only of Rabbinic origin and thus there are two conflicting Rabbinic commandments.180 [In this instance the Sages] released the prohibition [against causing a commandment to lapse], so [the sheliach tzibbur] would not interrupt She­moneh Esreh by moving from his place for the sake of a mitzvah that could be fulfilled by others.)

[On the other hand,] some authorities permit a sheliach tzibbur who is a kohen to deliver the Priestly Blessing even if there are other kohanim present. [They maintain that] no prohibition is involved if he moves from his place, since this is done for the sake of a mitzvah. [They permit him to do so] provided he is certain that he will be able to return to [the repetition of] Shemoneh Esreh, as explained above.181 At present, since we pray from Siddurim, everyone can be considered as confident. Therefore it is customary in many places that a sheliach tzibbur who is a kohen delivers the Priestly Blessing under all circumstances. Nevertheless, in a place where there is no established custom, the first opinion should be followed, for it reflects the fundamental ruling.182

לג וְכָל זֶה כְּשֶׁאֵין שָׁם כֹּהֵן אֶלָּא הוּא,שח שֶׁאָז הִתִּירוּ לַעֲקֹר רַגְלָיו בַּתְּפִלָּהשט כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא תִּתְבַּטֵּל נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם, שֶׁהִיא תִּקּוּן חֲכָמִים בְּכָל תְּפִלָּה הָרְאוּיָה לְכָךְ כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָה,שי,175 אֲבָל אִם יֵשׁ שָׁם כֹּהֲנִים אֲחֵרִים הָרְאוּיִים לִנְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם אֲפִלּוּ אִם הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר מֻבְטָח שֶׁיַּחֲזֹר לְתְפִלָּתוֹ בְּלֹא טֵרוּף הַדַּעַת – אֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי לַעֲקֹר רַגְלָיו לַעֲלוֹת לַדּוּכָן.

וְיִזָּהֲרוּ הָעָם שֶׁלֹּא לוֹמַר לוֹ לַעֲלוֹת אוֹ לִטֹּל יָדָיו. אֲבָל אִם אָמְרוּ לוֹ – צָרִיךְ לַעֲלוֹתשיא (אֲפִלּוּ אֵינוֹ מֻבְטָח)שיב אִם אָמְרוּ לוֹ בָּ"עֲבוֹדָה" אוֹ קֹדֶם לָכֵן,שיג שֶׁהֲרֵי עוֹבֵר בַּעֲשֵׂה אִם אֵינוֹ עוֹלֶה,שיד,176 וּמִפְּנֵי חֲשַׁשׁ טֵרוּף וּבִלְבּוּל הַתְּפִלָּה – אֵין לוֹ לַעֲבֹר בַּעֲשֵׂה, שֶׁתְּפִלָּה הִיא מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים.שטו,177

(אֲבָל כְּשֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לוֹשטז – אֵינוֹ עוֹבֵר כְּלוּם, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת כְּשֶׁקּוֹרְאִים "כֹּהֲנִים",שיז מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַקּוֹרֵא אֵינוֹ מִתְכַּוֵּן לִקְרוֹת אֶת הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר כְּלָל, הוֹאִיל וְאָסוּר לוֹ לַעֲקֹר רַגְלָיו,שיח וְכָל שֶׁהַקּוֹרֵא אֵינוֹ מִתְכַּוֵּן לוֹ – אֵינוֹ עוֹבֵר אֲפִלּוּ הוּא בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת, כְּגוֹן אִם נִסְתַּר אֲחוֹרֵי הָעַמּוּדִיםשיט שֶׁבְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת שֶׁלֹּא יִרְאֶנּוּ הַקּוֹרֵא, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁמִּן הַסְּתָם הַקּוֹרֵא אֵינוֹ מְכַוֵּן בִּקְרִיאָתוֹ אֶלָּא לַכֹּהֲנִים הַנִּרְאִים וִידוּעִים. וְכֹל שֶׁכֵּן הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר שֶׁבְּוַדַּאי אֵין הַקּוֹרֵא מִתְכַּוֵּן לוֹ אֶלָּא לִשְׁאָר הַכֹּהֲנִים בִּלְבַדָּם.

וַאֲפִלּוּ הָיָה מִתְכַּוֵּן גַּם לְהַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר – אֵינוֹ עוֹבֵר כְּלוּם, כֵּיוָן שֶׁלֹּא עָקַר רַגְלָיו בָּ"עֲבוֹדָה"שכ וּמְנָעוּהוּ חֲכָמִים מִלַּעֲלוֹת, שֶׁיֵּשׁ כֹּחַ בְּיַד חֲכָמִים לַעֲקֹר דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה בְּשֵׁב וְאַל תַּעֲשֶׂה.שכא,178 וְאַף שֶׁאָסוּר לִגְרֹם לַעֲקֹר דִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה179 וְהָיָה לוֹ לַעֲקֹר רַגְלָיו בָּ"עֲבוֹדָה" כֵּיוָן שֶׁיּוֹדֵעַ שֶׁיִּקָּרְאוּ הַכֹּהֲנִים כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָה,שכב,176 מִכָּל מָקוֹם אִסּוּר זֶה אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים, וְהֵם אָמְרוּ180 וְהֵם אָמְרוּ, וְהִתִּירוּ אִסּוּר זֶה כָּאן שֶׁלֹּא לְהַפְסִיק בַּתְּפִלָּה בַּעֲקִירַת רַגְלָיו לְצֹרֶךְ מִצְוָה שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לָהּ לְהִתְקַיֵּם עַל יְדֵי אֲחֵרִים).

וְיֵשׁ מַתִּירִיןשכג לִשְׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר כֹּהֵן לַעֲלוֹת לַדּוּכָן אֲפִלּוּ יֵשׁ כֹּהֲנִים אֲחֵרִים, וְאֵין אִסּוּר בַּעֲקִירַת רַגְלָיו הוֹאִיל וּדְבַר מִצְוָה הוּא, וְהוּא שֶׁמֻּבְטָח שֶׁיַּחֲזֹר לִתְפִלָּתוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָה.שכד,181 וְעַכְשָׁו שֶׁמִּתְפַּלְלִין מִתּוֹךְ הַסֵּפֶר – הֲרֵי כֻּלָּם מֻבְטָחִיםץשכה וְלָכֵן נָהֲגוּ בִּמְקוֹמוֹת הַרְבֵּה שֶׁשְׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר כֹּהֵן נוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו בְּכָל עִנְיָן. אֲבָל בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁאֵין מִנְהָג – יֵשׁ לִנְהֹג כַּסְּבָרָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָה, כִּי כֵּן עִקָּר:שכו,182

34 When the sheliach tzibbur is a kohen and he does not ascend the dais to confer the Priestly Blessing with the other kohanim, he should not call upon them [by] announcing “Kohanim!” nor should he prompt them with the words of the Priestly Blessing. Similarly, no other kohen should serve as prompter. [This is derived from] the phrase,3 “Say to them.” Implied is that the one saying is not one of them, but rather a non-kohen. And since it is initially preferable that the sheliach tzibbur be the one who prompts [the words of] the Priestly Blessing, as explained above,183 [the congregation] should by initial preference [choose] a sheliach tzibbur who is not a kohen.

When the sheliach tzibbur is a kohen, an Israelite184 should stand next to him and begin the passage Elokeinu v’Elokei avoseinu, barcheinu..., make the call “Kohanim!” and prompt [with the words of the Priestly Blessing for them].185 The sheliach tzibbur should [meanwhile] stand and remain silent until [the kohanim] complete the Priestly Blessing.186 The sheliach tzibbur then concludes [with] the paragraph that begins Sim Shalom. [This applies] even if the prompter listened attentively to the Shemoneh Esreh [recited by] the sheliach tzibbur. Since the sheliach tzibbur [remains] standing in his place, why should we divide the Shemoneh Esreh in two? ([Different principles apply when the sheliach tzibbur himself [delivers the Priestly Blessing], as has been explained.)187

If there is no Israelite present who can prompt [the words of the Priestly Blessing], there is an authority who maintains that [the kohanim] should confer the blessing without any prompting at all. Other authorities, however, maintain that the sheliach tzibbur should prompt the words, even though he is a kohen. [They maintain that] a kohen was barred from serving as prompter only as an initial preference, when [the words of the blessing] can be prompted in the manner that is implied by the simple meaning of the phrase, [“Say to them”]. (When, by contrast, it is impossible to do otherwise, we rely on the expanded interpretation that some Sages20 gave to the phrase, “Say to them” — that the saying should be theirs; i.e., a kohen should make the call “Kohanim!” and [a kohen] should likewise [serve as prompter]. The halachah follows this view.)

לד כְּשֶׁהַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר כֹּהֵן וְאֵינוֹ עוֹלֶה לַדּוּכָן עִם שְׁאָר הַכֹּהֲנִים – לֹא יִקְרָא הוּא לָהֶם "כֹּהֲנִים", וְלֹא יִהְיֶה מַקְרֵא אוֹתָם, וְהוּא הַדִּין לְכֹהֵן אַחֵר שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהַקְרוֹת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:שכז,3 "אָמוֹר לָהֶם", מִכְּלָל שֶׁהָאוֹמֵר אֵינוֹ מֵהֶם אֶלָּא מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל.שכח וּלְפִי שֶׁלְּכַתְּחִלָּה נָכוֹן שֶׁהַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר יִהְיֶה מַקְרֵא בִּרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָה,שכט,183 לְפִיכָךְ מִשְׁתַּדְּלִין לְכַתְּחִלָּה שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר יִשְׂרָאֵל.של

וּכְשֶׁהַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר כֹּהֵן – יַעֲמֹד יִשְׂרָאֵל184 אֶצְלוֹ וְיַתְחִיל "אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ בָּרְכֵנוּ כו'",שלא וְקוֹרֵא "כֹּהֲנִים" וּמַקְרֵא אוֹתָם,185 וְהַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר עוֹמֵד וְשׁוֹתֵקשלב עַד שֶׁיִּגְמְרוּ בִּרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים,186 וּמְסַיֵּם הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר "שִׂים שָׁלוֹם"שלג אֲפִלּוּ אִם כִּוֵּן לִבּוֹ הַמַּקְרֵא לִתְפִלַּת הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִּבּוּר, שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁהַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר עוֹמֵד בִּמְקוֹמוֹ – לָמָּה לָנוּ לְחַלֵּק הַתְּפִלָּה לִשְׁנַיִם (מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן כְּשֶׁהַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר עוֹלֶה לַדּוּכָן, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵרשלד).187

וְאִם אֵין שָׁם יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁיָּכוֹל לְהַקְרוֹת – יֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵרשלה שֶׁיְּבָרְכוּ בְּלֹא הַקְרָאָה כְּלָל. וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםשלו שֶׁהַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר הוּא מַקְרֵא אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא כֹּהֵן, שֶׁלֹּא מְנָעוּהוּ לַכֹּהֵן לְהַקְרוֹת אֶלָּא לְכַתְּחִלָּה בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לְהַקְרוֹת כְּמַשְׁמָעוּת הַכָּתוּב לְפִי פְּשׁוּטוֹשלז (אֲבָל כְּשֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר בְּעִנְיָן אַחֵר – סוֹמְכִיןשלח עַל מִדְרָשׁ שֶׁדָּרְשׁוּ קְצָת חֲכָמִים:שלט,20 "אָמוֹר לָהֶם", שֶׁתְּהֵא אֲמִירָה מִשֶּׁלָּהֶם, שֶׁכֹּהֵן קוֹרֵא "כֹּהֲנִים", וְהוּא הַדִּין שֶׁמַקְרֵא אוֹתָם. וְכֵן עִקָּרשמ):

35 The kohanim are not permitted to chant two or three melodies in the course of the Priestly Blessing lest their attention be distracted, for while seeking to change from melody to melody, they would have to concentrate precisely on sounding a balanced and even tone. Since their attention will be occupied with this, they will not know which verse or which word to start with. Even though someone is prompting [the words] for them, if their attention is distracted [by the chanting] they may forget even [the words of] the prompter. Instead, they should chant one melody from beginning to end.188

Similarly, while the sheliach tzibbur is repeating Shemoneh Esreh, he should not chant a number of melodies during one passage of Shemoneh Esreh.

לה אֵין הַכֹּהֲנִים רַשָּׁאִים לְנַגֵּן בְּבִרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים ב' אוֹ ג' נִגּוּנִים,שמא מִשּׁוּם טֵרוּף הַדַּעַת, שֶׁכְּשֶׁרוֹצִים לָצֵאת מִנִּגּוּן לְנִגּוּן – צְרִיכִים לְכַוֵּן וּלְדַקְדֵּק יָפֶה לְהַשְׁמִיעַ קוֹל שָׁוֶה וּמְיֻשָּׁר, וְעַל יְדֵי שֶׁמַּטְרִידִים דַּעְתָּם בְּזֶה – לֹא יֵדְעוּ אֵיזֶה פָּסוּק אוֹ תֵּבָה יַתְחִילוּ. וְאַף שֶׁהַמַּקְרֵא קוֹרֵא לִפְנֵיהֶם, מִכָּל מָקוֹם אִם תִּטָרֵף דַּעְתָּם יִשְׁכְּחוּ גַּם כֵּן קְרִיאַת הַמַּקְרֵא. אֶלָּא יְנַגְּנוּ נִגּוּן אֶחָד מֵרֹאשׁ וְעַד סוֹף.שמב,188

וְהוּא הַדִּין לִשְׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר בִּתְפִלָּתוֹ – אֵין לוֹ לְנַגֵּן נִגּוּנִין הַרְבֵּה בִּתְפִלָּתוֹ בְּעִנְיָן אֶחָד:שמג

36 When the kohanim are blessing the people they should not look at them, so that their attention will not be diverted.189 Instead, their eyes should be turned downward as with a person in the midst of concentrated prayer,190 for indeed they are praying to the Holy One, blessed be He, that He bless the entire Jewish people. The people who receive the blessing should also concentrate on the blessing, and should face the kohanim87 for the reason given above.191 They should not look at them, so that their attention will not be diverted. Certainly, they should not look elsewhere.192

It has therefore become customary in many places for each of the kohanim to draw his tallis over his face and hands so that they will not be able to look at the people, nor the people at them, neither at their faces, nor at their hands.193

In these countries,194 the kohanim follow the custom of drawing their talleisim195 over their faces only, so that they will not be able to look [at the people]. Their hands, by contrast, remain outside their talleisim so that they themselves will not be able to look at their hands and thus have their attention diverted. The people also draw their talleisim over their faces so that they will not be able to gaze at the hands of the kohanim.196 This is a more correct custom,197 [so that] the upraised hands of the kohanim will be revealed and visible and their talleisim will not intervene between their hands and the people, for this is implied by the verse,4 “And Aharon raised his hands toward the people and blessed them” — i.e., nothing should intervene between him and the people. As will be explained,198 the statement that,20 “not even an iron barrier can separate Israel from their Father in Heaven” relates only to someone who is outside a synagogue in which the congregants are being blessed by the kohanim: he, too, receives the blessing together with them. Nevertheless, after the fact, [the obligation that the hands of the kohanim be visible to those being blessed] is not an absolute necessity, as indicated by the fact that when all the inhabitants of a town are kohanim, they deliver the Priestly Blessing, as will be explained.199 (The tallis with which the congregants cover their faces is considered [insignificant] and subsidiary to their bodies, like their other garments. It is therefore not considered an intervening substance.)

[The Sages] forbade only looking intently [at the hands of the kohanim]; merely glancing at them is permitted. The custom, however, is to be stringent.

לו בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהַכֹּהֲנִים מְבָרְכִים הָעָם – לֹא יַבִּיטוּ בָּעָם וְלֹא יַסִּיחוּ דַּעְתָּם,189 אֶלָּא יִהְיֶה עֵינֵיהֶם כְּלַפֵּי מַטָּה כְּמִי שֶׁעוֹמֵד בַּתְּפִלָּה בְּכַוָּנָה,שדמ,190 שֶׁהֲרֵי הֵם מִתְפַּלְלִים שֶׁיְּבָרֵךְ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶת כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל,שמה וְהָעָם הַמְקַבְּלִים אֶת הַבְּרָכָה גַּם כֵּן יְכַוְּנוּ לַבְּרָכָה,שמו וְיִהְיוּ פְּנֵיהֶם נֶגֶד פְּנֵי הַכֹּהֲנִיםשמז,87 מִטַּעַם שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָה,שמח,191 וְלֹא יִסְתַּכְּלוּ בָּהֶם שֶׁלֹּא יַסִּיחוּ דַּעְתָּם,שמט וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן שֶׁלֹּא יִסְתַּכְּלוּ בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר.שנ,192

וְלָכֵן נָהֲגוּ בִּמְקוֹמוֹת הַרְבֵּה לְשַׁלְשֵׁל הַטַּלִּית שֶׁל מִצְוָה עַל פְּנֵיהֶם וִידֵיהֶם, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יוּכְלוּ לְהִסְתַּכֵּל בָּעָם וְלֹא הָעָם בָּהֶם, לֹא בִּפְנֵיהֶם וְלֹא בִּידֵיהֶם.שנא,193

וּבִמְדִינוֹת אֵלּוּ194 נָהֲגוּ שֶׁהַכֹּהֲנִים מְשַׁלְשְׁלִין הַטַּלִּית195 עַל פְּנֵיהֶם כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יוּכְלוּ לְהִסְתַּכֵּל לְבַד, אֲבָל יְדֵיהֶם חוּץ לַטַּלִּית כְּדֵי שֶׁהֵם עַצְמָן לֹא יוּכְלוּ לְהִסְתַּכֵּל בִּידֵיהֶם וְלֹא יָבוֹאוּ לִידֵי הֶסַּח הַדַּעַת,שנב וְהָעָם מְשַׁלְשְׁלִין הַטַּלִּית גַּם כֵּן עַל פְּנֵיהֶם כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יוּכְלוּ לְהִסְתַּכֵּל בִּידֵי הַכֹּהֲנִים.שנג,196 וּמִנְהָג זֶה יוֹתֵר נָכוֹןשנד,197 לִהְיוֹת נְשִׂיאַת כַּפֵּי הַכֹּהֲנִים גְּלוּיִים וְנִרְאִים וְלֹא תְּהֵא טַלִּיתָ[ם] חוֹצֶצֶת בֵּין כַּפֵּיהֶם לְהָעָם, כִּי כֵּן הוּא מַשְׁמָעוּת הַכָּתוּב:שנה,4 "וַיִּשָּׂא אַהֲרֹן אֶת יָדָו אֶל הָעָם וַיְבָרְכֵם", שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה דָּבָר חוֹצֵץ בֵּינוֹ לָעָם. וְלֹא אָמְרוּ20 "אֲפִלּוּ מְחִצָּה שֶׁל בַּרְזֶל אֵינָהּ מַפְסֶקֶת בֵּין יִשְׂרָאֵל לַאֲבִיהֶם שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם" כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר,שנו,198 אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁיֵּשׁ צִבּוּר הַמִּתְבָּרְכִים מֵהַכֹּהֲנִים בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת אֲזַי גַּם מִי שֶׁהוּא חוּץ לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת מִתְבָּרֵךְ עִמָּהֶם, אֶלָּא שֶׁבְּדִיעֲבַד אֵין זֶה מְעַכֵּב,שנז שֶׁהֲרֵי עִיר שֶׁכֻּלָּהּ כֹּהֲנִים כֻּלָּם עוֹלִים לַדּוּכָן כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵרשנח,199 (אֲבָל טַלִּית שֶׁעַל פְּנֵי הָעָם בְּטֵלָה לְגַבֵּי גּוּפָם כִּשְׁאָר מַלְבּוּשֵׁיהֶם וְאֵינָהּ חוֹצֶצֶתשנט).

וְלֹא אָסְרוּ אֶלָּא לְהִסְתַּכֵּל, אֲבָל רְאִיָּה בְּעָלְמָא מֻתֶּרֶת. אַךְ נוֹהֲגִין לִזָּהֵר:שס

37 The people who are behind the kohanim are not included in the Priestly Blessing,20 for it [may be conferred] only face to face,20 as was explained above.191 As to those who are in front of them and at their sides, [the Sages taught that]20 “not even an iron barrier can separate Israel from their Father in Heaven.” Those people must, however, turn to face the kohanim.

The people standing behind [the kohanim], but at their sides, are considered as standing behind them;42 to illustrate, they are standing at the eastern wall [of the synagogue],200 whereas the Ark projects slightly [from the wall] into the synagogue and the kohanim are standing in front of it.201 Even if those standing next to the wall turn to face the kohanim, they are not included in the blessing.

The people in the fields are [considered as being] held back by forces beyond their control, for they are preoccupied with their work and are unable to come to the synagogue. Accordingly, they are included in the blessing, even if they are behind the kohanim.20 By contrast, anyone who is in the town and could come to the synagogue to receive the blessing face to face as ordained by the Torah, but does not come, shows that he does not consider the blessing important enough to warrant his coming to the synagogue.202 He is therefore not included in the blessing if he is behind the kohanim. For the same reason, anyone who is in the town and who could come to the synagogue to receive the blessing [but does not] — even one standing in the courtyard of the synagogue who cannot enter the synagogue because he does not have a place — if he is standing behind the eastern wall,203 he is not included in the blessing. [The rationale is that] he could stand on the western side and thus be facing the kohanim, or he could stand at either side of the synagogue and turn to face the synagogue and the kohanim.

Similarly, the people standing at the eastern wall of the synagogue are not considered as being held back by forces beyond their control. It is true that at present everyone purchases a place in the synagogue and no one may stand in another’s place. However, one could move to the [usual] place of the kohanim, which will now be empty, or stand in the middle of the synagogue (on the reader’s dais, or at the western side of the synagogue, or in the courtyard to the west of the synagogue, or at the side of the synagogue if the Priestly Blessing can be heard from there.)

On the other hand, one authority offers justification for those [standing by the eastern wall], explaining that since the Ark is connected to the wall, it is considered as part of the wall. Thus it is as if the kohanim are standing next to the wall and as if [these people] are actually standing at the side of the kohanim — provided that they turn to face them. Congregants who are conscientious,204 nevertheless, take heed to leave the eastern wall and move a little to the west until they are facing the kohanim or until they are [at least] directly at their side.

לז עַם שֶׁאֲחוֹרֵי הַכֹּהֲנִים אֵינָם בִּכְלַל בְּרָכָה,שסא,20 שֶׁבִּרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא פָּנִים כְּנֶגֶד פָּנִיםשסב,20 כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָה.שסג,191 אֲבָל מִלִּפְנֵיהֶם וּבְצִדֵּיהֶם20 – אֲפִלּוּ מְחִצָּה שֶׁל בַּרְזֶל אֵינָהּ מַפְסֶקֶת בֵּין יִשְׂרָאֵל לַאֲבִיהֶם שֶׁבַּשָּׁמַיִם,שסד רַק שֶׁיַּחֲזִירוּ פְּנֵיהֶם כְּלַפֵּי הַכֹּהֲנִים.שסה

וּצְדָדִים שֶׁלְּאַחֲרֵיהֶם – כִּלְאַחֲרֵיהֶם,שסו,42 כְּגוֹן אוֹתָם הָעוֹמְדִים בְּכֹתֶל מִזְרָחִי200 וְהַהֵיכָל בּוֹלֵט קְצָת לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת וְהַכֹּהֲנִים עוֹמְדִים לְפָנָיו,201 אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהָעוֹמְדִים אֵצֶל הַכֹּתֶל הוֹפְכִים פְּנֵיהֶם כְּלַפֵּי הַכֹּהֲנִים – אֵינָן בִּכְלַל בְּרָכָה.שסז

וְעַם שֶׁבַּשָּׂדוֹת, כֵּיוָן שֶׁהֵם אֲנוּסִים שֶׁטְּרוּדִין בִּמְלַאכְתָּם וְאֵינָם יְכוֹלִים לָבוֹא לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת – הֵם בִּכְלַל בְּרָכָה אֲפִלּוּ הֵם אֲחוֹרֵי הַכֹּהֲנִים.שסח,20 אֲבָל כָּל מִי שֶׁהוּא בָּעִירשסט וְיָכוֹל לָבוֹא לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶתשע לְקַבֵּל הַבְּרָכָה פָּנִים אֶל פָּנִים כְּדָת שֶׁל תּוֹרָה וְאֵינוֹ בָּא – מַרְאֶה בְּעַצְמוֹ שֶׁאֵין הַבְּרָכָה חֲשׁוּבָה בְּעֵינָיו לָבוֹא לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת בִּשְׁבִילָהּ,202 לְכָךְ אֵינוֹ בִּכְלַל בְּרָכָה אִם הוּא אֲחוֹרֵי הַכֹּהֲנִים.שעא לָכֵן כָּל מִי שֶׁהוּא בָּעִיר וְיָכוֹל לָבוֹא לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת לְקַבֵּל הַבְּרָכָה, וַאֲפִלּוּ הָעוֹמְדִים בַּחֲצַר בֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת וְאֵינָם יְכוֹלִים לִכָּנֵס לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם מָקוֹם שָׁם, מִכָּל מָקוֹם אִם עוֹמְדִים אֲחוֹרֵי כֹּתֶל מִזְרָחִי203 – אֵינָם בִּכְלַל בְּרָכָה, שֶׁהֲרֵי יְכוֹלִים לַעֲמֹד לְצַד מַעֲרָב שֶׁהוּא נֶגֶד פְּנֵי הַכֹּהֲנִים, אוֹ יַעַמְדוּ לִצְדָדֵי בֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת וְיַהַפְכוּ פְּנֵיהֶם לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת כְּלַפֵּי הַכֹּהֲנִים.שעב

וְכֵן הָעוֹמְדִים בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת בְּכֹתֶל מִזְרָחִי – אֵינָם אֲנוּסִים, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעַכְשָׁו כָּל אֶחָד קוֹנֶה לוֹ מָקוֹם בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת וְאֵין אֶחָד יָכוֹל לַעֲמֹד בִּמְקוֹם חֲבֵרוֹ, מִכָּל מָקוֹם יְכוֹלִים לֵילֵךְ לִמְקוֹם הַכֹּהֲנִים שֶׁהוּא פָּנוּי, אוֹ לַעֲמֹד בְּאֶמְצַע בֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶתשעג (עַל הַבִּימָה, אוֹ בְּרוּחַ מַעֲרָבִית שֶׁל בֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת, אוֹ בַּחֲצַר בֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת לְצַד מַעֲרָב, אוֹ לִצְדָדֵי בֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת אִם אֶפְשָׁר לִשְׁמֹעַ שָׁם בִּרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים).

וְיֵשׁ מִישעד שֶׁלּוֹמֵד זְכוּת עֲלֵיהֶם לוֹמַר שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁהַהֵיכָל מְחֻבָּר לַכֹּתֶל – הֲרֵי הוּא כְּגוּף הַכֹּתֶל, וּכְאִלּוּ הַכֹּהֲנִים עוֹמְדִים סָמוּךְ לַכֹּתֶל מַמָּשׁ, וַהֲרֵי הֵם כְּאִלּוּ הָעוֹמְדִים בִּצְדָדֵי הַכֹּהֲנִים מַמָּשׁ, רַק שֶׁיַּהַפְכוּ פְּנֵיהֶם כְּלַפֵּי הַכֹּהֲנִים. אֲבָל אַנְשֵׁי מַעֲשֶׂה204 נִזְהָרִין לְהִתְרַחֵק מִכֹּתֶל מִזְרָחִי וְלֵילֵךְ לְצַד מַעֲרָב קְצָת עַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה פְּנֵיהֶם נֶגֶד פְּנֵי הַכֹּהֲנִים אוֹ נֶגֶד צִדֵּיהֶם מַמָּשׁ:

38 When all the inhabitants of a town or congregants in a synagogue are kohanim205 and only ten are present, they should all ascend the dais to bless the people.206 Whom are they blessing? Their brethren in the fields.20 Who should respond Amen? The women and the young children.

(Even though there is no one to summon them by calling out “Kohanim!” and there is no one to prompt them, this is of no consequence, for the calling and prompting are not at all absolute requirements, as was stated above.207 According to the authorities who maintain that a kohen who does not recite the Priestly Blessing may summon [his fellow kohanim] and may prompt them,208 in the present instance, too, the sheliach tzibbur [who is a kohen] and does not recite the Priestly Blessing may summon them and prompt them. This applies even though he is certain that his concentration will not be disturbed since he is a kohen and there are other kohanim present.)

If more than ten [kohanim] are present,209 any more than the quorum of ten should ascend the dais and recite the Priestly Blessing, and the ten should [remain in their places and] respond Amen. ([In such a situation], the people should be careful not to call out “Kohanim!” in the synagogue, so that the ten men [who remain in their places] will not violate a positive commandment.176 For though the person making this call is addressing it only to those who exceed the quorum of ten,210 who is to determine who are the additional ones?)

If [even only] one Israelite is present, all of the kohanim should ascend the dais and deliver the Priestly Blessing, and he should respond [Amen], for even one Israelite is fit to receive the blessing, for the reason explained above.211

As to kohanim, by contrast, although they are blessed together with the Israelites in the Priestly Blessing, they alone are not considered significant enough to receive it unless there are ten of them. This is why, when there are fewer than ten of them to receive the blessing in the synagogue, they should all ascend the dais and bless their brethren in the fields.

Similarly, although the women and the young children are included in the blessing, they do not fit the halachic criteria to be considered [as a congregation in order] to receive the blessing alone.

לח עִירשעה אוֹ בֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת שֶׁכֻּלָּהּ כֹּהֲנִים,205 אִם אֵין שָׁם אֶלָּא עֲשָׂרָה – כֻּלָּם עוֹלִים לַדּוּכָן.206 לְמִי מְבָרְכִין? לַאֲחֵיהֶם שֶׁבַּשָּׂדוֹת.שעו,20 וּמִי עוֹנֶה אַחֲרֵיהֶם אָמֵן? הַנָּשִׁים וְהַטָּף.שעז

(וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין מִי שֶׁקּוֹרֵא לָהֶם כֹּהֲנִים וְאֵין מִי שֶׁמַקְרֵא אוֹתָם – אֵין בְּכָךְ כְּלוּם, שֶׁהַקְּרִיאָה וְהַהַקְרָאָה אֵינָן מְעַכְּבוֹת כְּלָל כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָה.שעח,207 וּלְדִבְרֵי הָאוֹמְרִיםשעט שֶׁכֹּהֵן שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹלֶה יָכוֹל לִקְרוֹת וּלְהַקְרוֹת,208 גַּם כָּאן הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹלֶה, אֲפִלּוּ הוּא מֻבְטָח שֶׁלֹּא תִּטָּרֵף דַּעְתּוֹ, שֶׁהֲרֵי הוּא כֹּהֵן וְיֵשׁ כֹּהֲנִים אֲחֵרִיםשפ – הֲרֵי הוּא קוֹרֵא וּמַקְרֵא).

וְאִם יֵשׁ שָׁם יוֹתֵר מֵעֲשָׂרָה209 – הַיְתֵרִים מֵעֲשָׂרָה יַעֲלוּ וִיבָרְכוּ, וְהָעֲשָׂרָה עוֹנִים אַחֲרֵיהֶם אָמֵןשפא (וְיִזָּהֲרוּ שֶׁלֹּא לִקְרוֹת "כֹּהֲנִים" בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת, שֶׁלֹּא יַעַבְרוּ אֵלּוּ הָעֲשָׂרָה בַּעֲשֵׂה,שפב,176 שֶׁאַף שֶׁהַקּוֹרֵא אֵינוֹ מִתְכַּוֵּן אֶלָּא לְהַיְתֵרִים מֵעֲשָׂרָה,שפג,210 מִכָּל מָקוֹם מִי מֵפִיס מִי הֵם הַיְתֵרִים).

וְאִם יֵשׁ שָׁם יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶחָד – הֲרֵי כָּל הַכֹּהֲנִים עוֹלִים וּמְבָרְכִים, וְיִשְׂרָאֵל זֶה עוֹנֶה אַחֲרֵיהֶם, שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶחָד רָאוּי הוּא לְקַבֵּל הַבְּרָכָה מִטַּעַם שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָה.שפד,211

אֲבָל כֹּהֲנִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵם מִתְבָּרְכִים עִם יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּבִרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים, מִכָּל מָקוֹם אֵינָם חֲשׁוּבִים לְקַבֵּל הַבְּרָכָה בִּלְבַדָּם אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הֵם עֲשָׂרָה, לְפִיכָךְ כְּשֶׁאֵין מֵהֶם עֲשָׂרָה מְקַבְּלִים הַבְּרָכָה בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת – כֻּלָּם עוֹלִים וּמְבָרְכִים לַאֲחֵיהֶם שֶׁבַּשָּׂדוֹת.שפה

וְכֵן הַנָּשִׁים וְהַטַּף אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵם בִּכְלַל הַבְּרָכָה, מִכָּל מָקוֹם אֵינָם חֲשׁוּבִים לְקַבֵּל הַבְּרָכָה בִּלְבַדָּם:שפו

39 While the kohanim are reciting the Priestly Blessing, [the congregants] should not recite any verse. For is there a servant who, while being blessed at the behest of his master, will not listen attentively to the blessing his master is giving him? If [congregants] were to recite verses, they would not be able to concentrate on the blessing. They should therefore remain silent and do that.212

Nowadays, however, since kohanim chant melodies at length, it has become customary to recite verses while they are doing so — but it is preferable not to recite them.213 Those who do recite them should do so while the prompter is saying the next word and extending it melodiously.214

לט בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהַכֹּהֲנִים מְבָרְכִים – אֵין לוֹמַר שׁוּם פָּסוּק, כִּי כְּלוּם יֵשׁ עֶבֶד שֶׁמְּבָרְכִים אוֹתוֹ בִּשְׁלִיחוּת רַבּוֹ וְאֵינוֹ מַאֲזִין וּמְכַוֵּן לַבְּרָכָה שֶׁמְּבָרְכוֹ רַבּוֹ, וְאִם הָיוּ אוֹמְרִים הַפְּסוּקִים לֹא הָיוּ יְכוֹלִים לְכַוֵּן לַבְּרָכָה, לְכָךְ יֵשׁ לִשְׁתֹּק וּלְכַוֵּן לַבְּרָכָה.שפז,212

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, עַכְשָׁו שֶׁהַכֹּהֲנִים מַאֲרִיכִים הַרְבֵּה בְּנִגּוּנִים – נָהֲגוּ לוֹמַר גַּם כֵּן פְּסוּקִים בִּשְׁעַת הַאֲרָכַת הַנִּגּוּן.שפח אַךְ יוֹתֵר טוֹב שֶׁלֹּא לְאָמְרָם.שפט,213 וְהָאוֹמְרִים יֹאמְרוּ בְּשָּׁעָה שֶׁהַמַּקְרֵא מַקְרֵא הַתֵּבָה וּמַמְשִׁיכָהּ בְּנִגּוּן:שצ,214

40 A kohen is not permitted to add anything on his own initiative beyond the three verses of the Priestly Blessing. If he recites [an added blessing] with upraised hands and while facing the people, he violates the prohibition against making additions to the Torah’s commandments.215 (This is why the kohanim [are permitted to add] the verse, “Look down...”216 — because [by the time they say it] they have already relaxed their hands and have turned away [after having faced the congregation].)

If, however, [a kohen] recites these three verses several times in one day, he does not violate the prohibition against making additions to the Torah’s commandments, for this prohibition applies only when one makes an addition to the mitzvah itself, not when one performs the mitzvah twice.

מ כֹּהֵן אֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי לְהוֹסִיף מִדַּעְתּוֹ יוֹתֵר עַל הַג' פְּסוּקִים שֶׁל בִּרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים, וְאִם הוֹסִיף – עוֹבֵר עַל "בַּל תּוֹסִיף"שצא,215 אִם אָמַר בִּנְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִםשצב וּבְהַחְזָרַת פָּנִים כְּלַפֵּי הָעָםשצג (וְלָכֵן אוֹמְרִים "הַשְׁקִיפָה כו'",שצד,216 מִפְּנֵי שֶׁכְּבָר פָּשְׁטוּ כַּפֵּיהֶם וְהֶחֱזִירוּ פְּנֵיהֶם).

אֲבָל אִם אוֹמֵר ג' פְּסוּקִים אֵלּוּ כַּמָּה פְּעָמִים בְּיוֹם – אֵינוֹ עוֹבֵר עַל "בַּל תּוֹסִיף", שֶׁלֹּא שַׁיָּךְ "בַּל תּוֹסִיף" אֶלָּא בְּמוֹסִיף עַל הַמִּצְוָה עַצְמָהּשצה וְלֹא בַּעֲשִׂיַּת הַמִּצְוָה ב' פְּעָמִים:שצו

41 Accordingly, a kohen who already recited the Priestly Blessing, and then went to another synagogue where the congregation had not reached the Priestly Blessing, may recite it again. Moreover, he may recite the blessing that precedes it even though he already fulfilled his obligation with his earlier recitation, as was explained above.217

מא לְפִיכָךְ כֹּהֵן שֶׁנָּשָׂא כַּפָּיו וְאַחַר כָּךְ הָלַךְ לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת אַחֵר וּמָצָא צִבּוּר שֶׁלֹּא הִגִּיעוּ לְבִרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים – יָכוֹל לִשָׂא כַּפָּיו שֵׁנִיתשצז וּמְבָרֵךְ עַל נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם זוֹ, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁכְּבָר יָצָא יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ בִּנְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם הָרִאשׁוֹנָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָה:שצח,217

42 If a kohen has not yet prayed and he finds a congregation at prayer, he should deliver the Priestly Blessing [when they reach it. The fact that he has not] prayed does not disqualify him [from doing so]. If he is concerned lest the time for Shemoneh Esreh218 will pass if he now delivers the Priestly Blessing, he should go outside the synagogue to pray. For if he is inside the synagogue when the call “Kohanim!” is made and he does not ascend the dais [to recite the blessing], he will have violated a positive commandment.176 If, however, he was [explicitly] told to ascend the dais or to wash his hands, he should not go outside to pray. Instead, he must ascend the dais and confer the blessing so that he will not violate a positive commandment. [The rationale is that the recitation of] Shemoneh Esreh is a Rabbinic commandment,177 and it is superseded by the positive Scriptural commandment [to bless the people].

If the kohen is concerned that the time for the recitation of the Shema will pass,219 he should recite it without its blessings. If he does not have the opportunity to recite the entire Shema, he should recite the first verse,220 in keeping with the view that the Scriptural commandment comprises only the first verse. (Alternatively, he should recite the first passage, in keeping with the view that the Scriptural commandment comprises that passage, as stated in sec. 46:9.)221

מב כֹּהֵן שֶׁלֹּא הִתְפַּלֵּל עֲדַיִן וּמָצָא צִבּוּר מִתְפַּלֵּל – נוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו וְאֵין הַתְּפִלָּה מְעַכַּבְתּוֹ.שצט וְאִם יָרֵא שֶׁאִם יַעֲלֶה לַדּוּכָן יַעֲבֹר זְמַן תְּפִלָּה218 – יֵלֵךְ חוּץ לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת וְיִתְפַּלֵּל,ת שֶׁאִם יִהְיֶה בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת כְּשֶׁיִּקְרְאוּ "כֹּהֲנִים" וְלֹא יַעֲלֶה – יַעֲבֹר בַּעֲשֵׂה.תא,176 אֲבָל אִם אָמְרוּ לוֹ לַעֲלוֹת אוֹ לִטֹּל יָדָיו – לֹא יֵלֵךְ הַחוּצָה לְהִתְפַּלֵּל אֶלָּא צָרִיךְ לַעֲלוֹת שֶׁלֹּא יַעֲבֹר בַּעֲשֵׂה, שֶׁהַתְּפִלָּה הִיא מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִיםתב,178 וְנִדְחֵית מִפְּנֵי מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁל תּוֹרָה.תג וְאִם מִתְיָרֵא שֶׁיַּעֲבֹר זְמַן קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע219 – יִקְרָאֶנָּה בְּלֹא בִּרְכוֹתֶיהָ. וְאִם אֵין פְּנַאי לִקְרוֹת כֻּלָּהּ – יִקְרָא פָּסוּק רִאשׁוֹןתד,220 לְהָאוֹמְרִים שֶׁפָּסוּק רִאשׁוֹן בִּלְבַד הוּא מִן הַתּוֹרָה (אוֹ פָּרָשָׁה רִאשׁוֹנָה לְהָאוֹמְרִים שֶׁפָּרָשָׁה רִאשׁוֹנָה מִדְּאוֹרַיְתָא, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן מ"ותה):221

43 Similarly, if a kohen is in the midst of reciting Shemoneh Esreh222 and he is told to ascend the dais [to deliver the Priestly Blessing] or to wash his hands, he must interrupt [his Shemoneh Esreh] and ascend the dais even if other kohanim are present. If no one told him to do so, he should not interrupt his Shemoneh Esreh if there are other kohanim present. (Even though he is in the synagogue when the call “Kohanim!” is made, he does not violate [a positive commandment], for the reason stated above, in subsection 33.) If there are no other kohanim present, he must interrupt his Shemoneh Esreh and ascend the dais [to confer the blessing], so that the conferral of the Priestly Blessing will not lapse.

מג וְכֵן כֹּהֵן הָעוֹמֵד בִּתְפִלָּה222 וְאָמְרוּ לוֹ לַעֲלוֹת לַדּוּכָן אוֹ לִטֹּל יָדָיותו – צָרִיךְ לְהַפְסִיק וְלַעֲלוֹת אֲפִלּוּ יֵשׁ שָׁם כֹּהֲנִים אֲחֵרִים.תז וְאִם לֹא אָמְרוּ לוֹ – אֵינוֹ פּוֹסֵק אִם יֵשׁ שָׁם כֹּהֲנִים אֲחֵרִיםתח (וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת כְּשֶׁקּוֹרְאִים "כֹּהֲנִים" – אֵינוֹ עוֹבֵר מִטַעַם שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָה בְּסָעִיף ל"ג). וְאִם אֵין שָׁם כֹּהֲנִים אֲחֵרִים – פּוֹסֵק וְעוֹלֶה, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא תִּתְבַּטֵּל נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם:תט

44 The following individuals are disqualified223 from reciting the Priestly Blessing224 according to Rabbinic ordinance:225 One who has physical blemishes on his face or hands — for example, [the fingers of] his hand were bent or deformed to the sides226 or they were speckled with small white spots, and similarly, [a kohen] whose face was speckled or distorted — should not deliver the Priestly Blessing, because people will stare at him and their attention will be diverted.227 This [restriction] also applies to a kohen whose feet are blemished, in regions where the kohanim ascend the dais [to bless the people] without wearing socks, for the blemishes will be visible and people may look at them.228

By contrast, physical blemishes that are concealed do not disqualify [a kohen] from blessing the people, even though they disqualify him from serving in the Beis HaMikdash. The textual association between conferring the Priestly Blessing and serving [in the Beis HaMikdash] applies only with regard to the requirement to stand, as it is written,229 “To stand before G‑d and serve Him and bless in His name.” This association applies with regard to [the obligation to] stand,230 but not with regard to anything else. (For if the verse merely intended to teach that service [in the Beis HaMikdash] must be performed while standing, [it would be superfluous,] because the Torah states elsewhere231 [that the kohanim were chosen] “to stand and to serve.” Indeed, the Torah repeated [this concept] in order to teach that this is an absolute requirement,232 as it is written,233 “To stand there.”)

מד אֵלּוּ הַפְּסוּלִים223 לִנְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם224 מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים:תי,225 מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ מוּמִיןתיא בְּפָנָיו אוֹ בְּיָדָיו,תיב כְּגוֹן שֶׁיָּדָיו הֵן כְּפוּפוֹת אוֹ עֲקֻמּוֹת לְצִדֵּיהֶן,תיג,226 אוֹ שֶׁהֵן בּוֹהֲקָנִיּוֹתתיד דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁמְּנֻמָּרוֹת בִּנְקֻדּוֹת דַּקּוֹת.תטו וְכֵן אִם פָּנָיו בּוֹהֲקָנִיּוֹת אוֹ עֲקֻמִּים – לֹא יִשָּׂא אֶת כַּפָּיו,תטז מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהָעָם מִסְתַּכְּלִין בּוֹתיז וּבָאִים לִידֵי הֶסַּח הַדַּעַת.תיח,227 וְהוּא הַדִּין מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ מוּמִין בְּרַגְלָיו,תיט בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁעוֹלִין לַדּוּכָן בְּלֹא בָּתֵּי שׁוֹקַיִם,תכ שֶׁהַמּוּמִין גְּלוּיִים וּמִסְתַּכְּלִין בָּהֶם.228

אֲבָל מוּמִין שֶׁבַּסֵּתֶר אֵינָן פּוֹסְלִין לִנְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם,תכא אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁפּוֹסְלִין לָעֲבוֹדָה שֶׁבַּמִּקְדָּשׁ. וְלֹא הֻקְּשָׁה נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם לָעֲבוֹדָה אֶלָּא לְעִנְיַן עֲמִידָה,תכב שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:תכג,229 "לַעֲמֹד לִפְנֵי ה' לְשָׁרְתוֹ וּלְבָרֵךְ בִּשְׁמוֹ", לַעֲמִידָה230 הֻקְּשָׁה – וְלֹא לְדָבָר אַחֵרתכד (שֶׁאִם לֹא בָּא הַכָּתוּב אֶלָּא לְלַמֵּד עַל שֵׁרוּת שֶׁהִיא בַּעֲמִידָה, הֲרֵי כְּבָר נֶאֱמַרתכה,231 "לַעֲמֹד לְשָׁרֵת", וְשָׁנָה עָלָיו הַכָּתוּב לְעַכֵּב,תכו,232 שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:תכז,233 "הָעֹמְדִים שָׁם וְגו'"):

45 Similarly, one whose saliva drips on his beard, one whose eyes continually drip tears, or a person who is blind even in one eye, should not deliver the Priestly Blessing,224 because people will stare at him.

However, if he is all ready well known in his town, i.e., the people are familiar with him and everyone knows that he has that blemish, whether it be on his face, his hands, or his feet, he may deliver the Priestly Blessing.234 [This applies] even if he is blind in both eyes.

Whenever a person has been in a town for 30 days while afflicted with a particular blemish, it is considered that the townsmen are familiar with him, provided this is the town in which he lives or to which he came to live and he stayed there 30 days. Even if one did not come to settle there permanently, but came there to serve as a teacher, a scribe, or an attendant for a year or half a year, after 30 days it is considered that the townsmen have become familiar with him, because they converse with him and look at him. Having one’s eyes become familiar takes 30 days as familiarizing one’s tongue does, as was stated in sec. 114[:10].

If, by contrast, a person [merely] happens to go to another town, [even] if he stays there 30 days, it is not considered that people have become familiar with him (unless he stays there for 12 months),235 because the people of the city do not interact with him.

מה וְכֵן מִי שֶׁרִירוֹ יוֹרֵד עַל זְקָנוֹתכח אוֹ שֶׁעֵינָיו זוֹלְפוֹת דִּמְעָה,תכט וְכֵן סוּמָא אֲפִלּוּ בְּאַחַת מֵעֵינָיו – לֹא יִשָּׂא אֶת כַּפָּיו,תל,224 מִפְּנֵי שֶׁמִּסְתַּכְּלִין בּוֹ.

וְאִם הָיָה דָּשׁ בְּעִירוֹ, דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁהֵם רְגִילִים בּוֹ וּמַכִּירִים הַכֹּל שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ אוֹתוֹ מוּם,תלא בֵּין שֶׁאוֹתוֹ מוּם הוּא בְּפָנָיו בֵּין בְּיָדָיו וְרַגְלָיותלב – יִשָּׂא אֶת כַּפָּיו,234 וַאֲפִלּוּ הוּא סוּמָא בִּשְׁתֵּי עֵינָיו.תלג

וְכָל מִי שֶׁשָּׁהָה ל' יוֹם בָּעִיר בְּמּוּם זֶה – נִקְרָא דָּשׁ בְּעִירוֹ. וְהוּא שֶׁהִיא עִירוֹ שֶׁדָּר בָּהּ אוֹ שֶׁבָּא לָגוּר בָּהּ וְשָׁהָה בָּהּ שְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם, וַאֲפִלּוּ לֹא בָּא לְהִשְׁתַּקֵּעַ בָּהּ לִהְיוֹת מִבְּנֵי הָעִיר אֶלָּא בָּא לִהְיוֹת מְלַמֵּד אוֹ סוֹפֵר אוֹ מְשָׁרֵת שָׁנָה אוֹ חֲצִי שָׁנָה – נִקְרָא דָּשׁ בְּעִירוֹ בִּשְׁלֹשִׁים יוֹם,תלד לְפִי שֶׁרְגִילִים בְּנֵי הָעִיר לִשָׂא וְלִתֵּן עִמּוֹ בִּדְבָרִים וּמִסְתַּכְּלִין בּוֹ, וְהֶרְגֵּל עַיִן הוּא בְּלמ"ד יוֹם כְּמוֹ הֶרְגֵּל הַלָּשׁוֹן שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן קי"ד.תלה אֲבָל אִם הוֹלֵךְ בְּאַקְרַאי לְעִיר אַחֶרֶת וְשָׁהָה בָּהּ ל' יוֹם – אֵינוֹ נִקְרָא דָּשׁ בְּעִירוֹ (עַד שֶׁיִּשְׁהֶה בָּהּ י"ב חֹדֶשׁתלו),235 לְפִי שֶׁאֵין בְּנֵי הָעִיר רְגִילִין לִשָׂא וְלִתֵּן עִמּוֹ:תלז

46 If the local custom is that the kohanim draw their talleisim over their faces,236 a kohen can recite the Priestly Blessing even if his face has a number of blemishes, for there is no need for concern that [the listeners’] concentration will be distracted. If, however, this is not the custom, but [the kohen] with the blemish desires to draw his tallis over his face, this is forbidden. Since he will be [acting] differently than his colleagues, [people] will stare at him and their attention will be diverted. Even if all the kohanim were willing to draw their talleisim [over their faces], license should not be granted.

[The rationale is that] since the local people are not accustomed to [having the kohanim] draw their talleisim [over their faces], they will realize that when [the kohanim] do that, they are doing it because of the kohen with a blemish and they will [try to] look at him. This [objection] applies even more if he is the only one delivering the Priestly Blessing and draws his tallis [over his face], contrary to the local custom. It will be obvious that he is doing this because of his blemish and people will [try to] look at him.

Similarly, if the local custom is that the hands of the kohanim are kept inside the tallis that is [drawn] over their faces, a kohen can bless the people even if his hands have a number of blemishes. A certain authority maintains that, similarly, if the congregants customarily cover their faces with a tallis, a kohen may bless the people even if his face and hands have a number of blemishes. This, however, is not the [common] practice.

מו אִם מִנְהַג הַמָּקוֹם לְשַׁלְשֵׁל הַכֹּהֲנִים טַלִּית עַל פְּנֵיהֶם,תלח,236 אֲפִלּוּ יֵשׁ בְּפָנָיו כַּמָּה מוּמִין – יִשָּׂא אֶת כַּפָּיו, כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵין לָחוּשׁ לְהֶסַּח הַדַּעַת.תלט אֲבָל אִם אֵין הַמִּנְהָג כֵּן וְרָצָה זֶה שֶׁמּוּם בּוֹ לְשַׁלְשֵׁל טַלִּיתוֹ – אָסוּר, שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁהוּא מְשֻׁנֶּה מֵחֲבֵרָיו – יָבוֹאוּ לְהִסְתַּכֵּל בּוֹ וְיַסִּיחוּ דַּעְתָּם. וַאֲפִלּוּ רָצוּ כָּל הַכֹּהֲנִים לְשַׁלְשֵׁל טַלִּיתָם – אֵין לְהַתִּיר, שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁלֹּא הֻרְגְּלוּ בְּנֵי הָעִיר לְשַׁלְשֵׁל טַלִּיתָם, כְּשֶׁיְּשַׁלְשְׁלוּ עַכְשָׁו מַכִּירִים הָעָם שֶׁבִּשְׁבִיל זֶה שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ מוּם הוּא, וּבָאִין לְהִסְתַּכֵּל בּוֹ. וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן אִם הוּא לְבַדּוֹ נוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו וּמְשַׁלְשֵׁל טַלִּיתוֹ שֶׁלֹּא כְּמִנְהָגָם, שֶׁנִּכָּר שֶׁבִּשְׁבִיל מוּם שֶׁבּוֹ הוּא, וְיָבוֹאוּ לְהִסְתַּכֵּל בּוֹ.תמ

וְכֵן אִם מִנְהַג הַמָּקוֹם שֶׁיְּדֵי הַכֹּהֲנִים הֵן לִפְנִים מִן הַטַּלִּית שֶׁעַל פְּנֵיהֶם,תמא אֲפִלּוּ יֵשׁ כַּמָּה מוּמִים בְּיָדָיו – יִשָּׂא אֶת כַּפָּיו.תמב וְיֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵרתמג שֶׁהוּא הַדִּין אִם מִנְהַג הַקָּהָל לְכַסּוֹת פְּנֵיהֶם בַּטַּלִּית, אֲפִלּוּ יֵשׁ בְּפָנָיו וְיָדָיו כַּמָּה מוּמִין – יִשָּׂא כַּפָּיו. וְאֵין נוֹהֲגִין כֵּן:תמד

47 If the hands of a kohen were stained with indigo or madder237 he should not bless the people because they will stare at his hands, unless he is well known in his town. If most of the townsfolk work in a vocation that [produces such stains, such a kohen] may bless the people even if he is not well known in his town.

מז הָיוּ יָדָיו צְבוּעוֹת אִסְטִיס וּפוּאָה237 – לֹא יִשָּׂא כַּפָּיו, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהָעָם מִסְתַּכְּלִין בָּהֶן,תמה אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן דָּשׁ בְּעִירוֹ.תמו וְאִם רֹב אַנְשֵׁי הָעִיר מְלַאכְתָּם בְּכָךְ – יִשָּׂא אֶת כַּפָּיותמז אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ דָּשׁ בְּעִירוֹ:

48 [Among those who] should not deliver the Priestly Blessing are kohanim who do not know how to enunciate the letters correctly;224 e.g., they read an alef like an ayin or an ayin like an alef.238 Although the Priestly Blessing does not include an ayin, if such a kohen recites the phrase yaer A-donai ('יאר ה — “May G‑d make His countenance shine upon you”), it will sound as if he is saying yaer (יער),239 for he pronounces the ayin and the alef alike. A similar [ruling] applies to one who says shiboles instead of siboles and siboles instead of shiboles,240 one who pronounces a ches like a hei, and the like. [An exception should be made] when all of the inhabitants of a town read the letters in this fashion — as in these countries, where the overwhelming majority cannot distinguish between [the pronunciation of] an ayin and an alef. Therefore this is not considered as a disqualifying factor in our [communities].

A certain authority maintains that even in places where very many people241 do not distinguish between shiboles and siboles, [kohanim who mispronounce the letters in this manner] may deliver the Priestly Blessing. ([The rationale for] the disqualification is not that the kohen cannot pronounce the letter correctly, but rather, that it causes people to divert their attention; they wonder about him when he changes the pronunciation of the letters, whereas in regions where they are accustomed to such changes, they are not concerned with this and they do not divert their attention from the blessing. According to this opinion, there is no need for concern if one reads an ayin as an alef, even if all the local residents read [these letters] correctly. [The rationale is] that since the Priestly Blessing does not include an ayin, there is no need to be concerned about the diversion of attention.

The halachah follows the first opinion — that the disqualification hinges on the changed meaning of the words of the blessing. [Hence,] license is granted only in places where the overwhelming majority of the people read in this manner, for according to them, the meaning of the blessing is [as pronounced].)

מח מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ לַחְתֹּךְ הָאוֹתִיּוֹת,224 כְּגוֹן שֶׁאוֹמֵר לְאלפי"ן עיני"ן וּלְעייני"ן אלפי"ן,תמח,238 שֶׁאַף שֶׁאֵין עיי"ן בְּבִרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים, מִכָּל מָקוֹם כְּשֶׁאוֹמֵר "יָאֵר ה'" – מֵחֲזֵי כְּאוֹמֵר יָעֵר,תמט,239 שֶׁעיי"ן וְאל"ף שָׁוִין אֶצְלוֹ.תנ וְכֵן מִי שֶׁקּוֹרֵא לְ"סִבֹּלֶת" "שִׁבֹּלֶת" וּלְ"שִׁבֹּלֶת" "סִבֹּלֶת",תנא,240 וְכֵן מִי שֶׁקּוֹרֵא לְחתי"ן ההי"ן,תנב וְכֵן כָּל כַּיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה – לֹא יִשָּׂא אֶת כַּפָּיו. אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן כָּל בְּנֵי עִירוֹ קוֹרְאִין כָּךְ,תנג כְּגוֹן בִּמְדִינוֹת אֵלּוּ שֶׁרֻבָּם כְּכֻלָּם אֵינָם יוֹדְעִים לְהַבְחִין בֵּין עיי"ן לְאל"ף, לְפִיכָךְ לֹא שַׁיָּךְ פְּסוּל זֶה בֵּינֵינוּ.תנד

וְיֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵרתנה שֶׁאַף בִּמְקוֹמוֹת שֶׁמְּצוּיִים הַרְבֵּה אֲנָשִׁים מְאֹד241 שֶׁאֵין מַבְחִינִים בֵּין "שִׁבֹּלֶת" לְ"סִבֹּלֶת" – נוֹשְׂאִים כַּפֵּיהֶם (לְפִי שֶׁאֵין הַפְּסוּל מֵחֲמַת שֶׁאֵין יָכוֹל לוֹמַר הָאוֹת כָּרָאוּי, אֶלָּא מִפְּנֵי שֶׁמֵּבִיא אֶת הָעָם לִידֵי הֶסַּח הַדַּעַת,תנו שֶׁהֵם תְּמֵהִים עָלָיו כְּשֶׁמְּשַׁנֶּה קְרִיאַת הָאוֹתִיּוֹת, וּבִמְקוֹמוֹת שֶׁהֵן רְגִילִים בְּשִׁנּוּי זֶה – אֵין חוֹשְׁשִׁין לוֹ וְאֵין מַסִּיחִים דַּעְתָּם מִן הַבְּרָכָה. וּלְפִי זֶה אֵין לָחוּשׁ אִם קוֹרֵא לְעייני"ן אלפי"ן אֲפִלּוּ אִם כָּל אַנְשֵׁי הַמָּקוֹם קוֹרִים כָּרָאוּי, שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵין עיי"ן בְּבִרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים – אֵין לָחוּשׁ לְהֶסַּח הַדַּעַת.

וְעִקָּר כַּסְּבָרָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָה, שֶׁהַפְּסוּל הוּא מִפְּנֵי שֶׁמִּשְׁתַּנָּה מַשְׁמָעוּת לְשׁוֹן הַבְּרָכָה.תנז וְאֵין הֶתֵּר אֶלָּא בִּמְקוֹמוֹת שֶׁרֻבָּם כְּכֻלָּם קוֹרִין כָּךְ, שֶׁאֶצְלָם מַשְׁמָעוּת הַבְּרָכָה כָּךְ הִיאתנח):

49 A minor, even one who is thirteen years old but has not manifested signs of physical maturity,242 should not confer the Priestly Blessing alone,243 for it does not befit the respect due a congregation244 that they should be dependent on his blessing. However, if other kohanim who have attained majority [are conferring the Priestly Blessing], a kohen [who is a minor] — even if he is not thirteen years old, provided he knows how to recite the Priestly Blessing — may recite it together with them245 in order to be trained in [the observance of] the mitzvos. Moreover, he may recite the blessing that precedes the Priestly Blessing just as he recites the blessing before performing other mitzvos from which he is exempt according to Scriptural Law, but in which he is trained according to Rabbinic ordinance.246

After he manifests signs of physical maturity he may recite the Priestly Blessing even alone on occasion, but should not do so regularly until he has a full beard, out of deference to the congregation:245 it is not fitting that they should be blessed continually [by a young kohen] alone when his beard is not yet fully grown.247 Anyone who has reached the age at which it is appropriate for his beard to have grown fully, i.e., age 20, is considered as if he had a full beard even though it is not fully grown.248 He may deliver the Priestly Blessing regularly, even alone.

The expression “regularly” refers only to one does so every day. In these countries, by contrast, where the kohanim confer the blessing only on the festivals,249 it is not considered as anything more than occasional even if it is conferred on every festival. Accordingly, [the young kohen discussed above] is permitted to recite the Priestly Blessing alone even if he is under 20 years old. (It is, however, necessary to check that he has manifested signs of physical maturity, lest a blessing be recited in vain.)250

מט קָטָןתנט אֲפִלּוּ הוּא בֶּן י"ג שָׁנָה אֶלָּא שֶׁלֹּא הֵבִיא ב' שְׂעָרוֹתתס,242 – אֵינוֹ נוֹשֵׂא אֶת כַּפָּיו בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ,תסא,243 שֶׁאֵין כְּבוֹד הַצִבּוּר244 לִהְיוֹת כְּפוּפִים לְבִרְכָתוֹ.תסב אֲבָל עִם כֹּהֲנִים אֲחֵרִים שֶׁהֵם גְּדוֹלִים, אֲפִלּוּ אֵינוֹ בֶּן י"ג שָׁנִים שֶׁיּוֹדֵעַ לִשָׂא אֶת כַּפָּיותסג – נוֹשֵׂא עִמָּהֶם245 כְּדֵי לְהִתְחַנֵּךְ בְּמִצְווֹת.תסד וְרַשַּׁאי לְבָרֵךְ עַל נְשִׂיאַת כַּפָּיו,תסה כְּמוֹ שֶׁמְּבָרֵךְ עַל שְׁאָר מִצְוֹת שֶׁהוּא פָּטוּר מֵהֶן מִן הַתּוֹרָהתסו וּמְחַנְּכִין אוֹתוֹ בָּהֶן מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים.תסז,246

וּמִשֶּׁהֵבִיא ב' שְׂעָרוֹת נוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו אֲפִלּוּ בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ בְּאַקְרַאי, וְלֹא בִּקְבִיעוּתתסח עַד שֶׁיִּתְמַלֵּא זְקָנוֹ,תסט מִשּׁוּם כְּבוֹד הַצִבּוּר,תע,245 שֶׁאֵין כְּבוֹדָם שֶׁיְּבָרְכֵם יְחִידִי בִּקְבִיעוּת מִי שֶׁלֹּא נִתְמַלֵּא זְקָנוֹ.247 וְכָל מִי שֶׁהִגִּיעַ לַשָּׁנִים שֶׁרָאוּי לְהִתְמַלֹּאות זְקָנוֹ דְּהַיְנוּ בֶּן כ',תעא אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא נִתְמַלֵּא זְקָנוֹ – דִּינוֹ כְּנִתְמַלֵּא,248 וְנוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו אֲפִלּוּ יְחִידִי בְּקֶבַע.תעב

וְאֵינוֹ נִקְרָא קֶבַע אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁנּוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו בְּכָל יוֹם, אֲבָל בִּמְדִינוֹת אֵלּוּ שֶׁאֵין הַכֹּהֲנִים נוֹשְׂאִין כַּפֵּיהֶן אֶלָּא בָּרֶגֶל,תעג,249 אֲפִלּוּ נוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו בְּכָל רֶגֶל וְרֶגֶל – אֵין זֶה אֶלָּא בְּאַקְרַאי,תעד וְרַשַּׁאי לִשָׂא כַּפָּיו יְחִידִי אֲפִלּוּ הוּא פָּחוּת מִבֶּן כ'תעה (רַק שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְדַקְדֵּק בְּשַׂעֲרוֹתָיו, שֶׁלֹּא יָבוֹא לִידֵי בְּרָכָה לְבַטָּלָהתעו):250

50 A kohen who killed a person, even inadvertently,251 should not bless the people.252 This is [implied by] the verse,253 “When you spread out your hands,254 I will hide My eyes from you, even if you pray profusely, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.” This applies even if [the kohen] repents, for it is written, “Even if you pray profusely, I will not listen.”

On the other hand, some authorities maintain that if [the kohen] repented, he may bless the people, and that he was barred from doing so only if he remained brazenly rebellious. Hence, [they maintain,] leniency should be granted to penitents, so that the door will not be shut in their face.255 It is customary [to follow this view].

If there are rumors circulating that [a kohen] is a murderer and remains brazenly rebellious, he may nevertheless deliver the Priestly Blessing, because the matter has not been clarified conclusively. Similarly, if [a kohen] circumcised a child and the child died, he may deliver the blessing, because it is possible that the child was born prematurely.256 Even if it is known that the child was born after a full-term pregnancy, [the kohen] should not be disqualified from delivering the Priestly Blessing, since he intended to perform a mitzvah. Similarly, if he pushed a pregnant woman and she miscarried, he may nevertheless bless the people, for one who kills a fetus is not liable, even if the pregnancy has already run full term.257

נ כֹּהֵן שֶׁהָרַג אֶת הַנֶּפֶשׁתעז אֲפִלּוּ בְּשׁוֹגֵגתעח,251 – לֹא יִשָּׂא כַּפָּיו,252 שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:תעט,253 "וּבְפָרִשְׂכֶם כַּפֵּיכֶם254 אַעְלִים עֵינַי מִכֶּם, גַּם כִּי תַרְבּוּ תְפִלָּה אֵינֶנִּי שֹׁמֵעַ, יְדֵיכֶם דָּמִים מָלֵאוּ". וַאֲפִלּוּ עָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה,תפ שֶׁהֲרֵיתפא נֶאֱמַר "גַּם כִּי תַרְבּוּ תְפִלָּה אֵינֶנִּי שֹׁמֵעַ וגו'".

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםתפב שֶׁאִם עָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה – נוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו, וְלֹא מָנְעוּ מִמֶּנּוּ נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁעוֹמֵד בְּמִרְדּוֹ, וְיֵשׁ לְהָקֵל עַל בַּעֲלֵי תְּשׁוּבָה שֶׁלֹּא לִנְעֹל דֶּלֶת בִּפְנֵיהֶם.255 וְכֵן נוֹהֲגִין.תפג

וְאִם הָעָם מְרַנְּנִים אַחֲרָיותפד שֶׁהוּא שׁוֹפֵךְ דָּמִים וְעוֹמֵד בְּמִרְדּוֹ, כֵּיוָן שֶׁלֹּא נִתְבָּרֵר הַדָּבָר – יִשָּׂא כַּפָּיו. וְכֵן אִם מָל תִּינוֹק וּמֵת – נוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו,תפה כִּי שֶׁמָּא לֹא כָּלוּ לוֹ חֳדָשָׁיו.256 וַאֲפִלּוּ יָדוּעַ שֶׁכָּלוּ לוֹ חֳדָשָׁיו, כֵּיוָן שֶׁנִּתְכַוֵּן לְמִצְוָה – אֵין לְפָסְלוֹ מִנְּשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם.תפו וְכֵן אִם דָּחַף אִשָּׁה הָרָה וְהִפִּילָה – נוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו,תפז שֶׁהַהוֹרֵג אֶת הָעֻבָּר פָּטוּר אֲפִלּוּ אִם כָּלוּ לוֹ חֳדָשָׁיו:תפח,257

51 A kohen who apostatized — even to Islam, which is not idolatrous — (is subject to the penalty of the Sages so that) his [priestly] holiness is considered to be desecrated. He may not deliver the Priestly Blessing, nor may he be called first to the Reading of the Torah.72 [The above applies] provided he did not repent. However, if he repented, even if he had converted to an idolatrous faith, he returns to his holy status.

Other transgressions — even incest or adultery — apart from apostasy and manslaughter, do not bar a kohen from delivering the Priestly Blessing, even if he did not repent, as will be explained.258

Accordingly, an uncircumcised kohen, even one who intentionally did not have himself circumcised, may confer the Priestly Blessing. Even though an uncircumcised [kohen] is disqualified from service [in the Beis HaMikdash],259 he should not be disqualified from conferring the Priestly Blessing on the grounds of its association with the sacrificial service, for that association teaches only [that both activities must be performed] while one is standing, as explained above in subsection 44.

Nevertheless, since at least a partial association was made between the recitation of this blessing and service [in the Beis HaMikdash], the Sages260 forbade an intoxicated person from delivering the Priestly Blessing just as the Torah forbade an intoxicated person from performing the sacrificial service in the [Beis Ha]Mikdash, as it is written,261 “Do not drink wine or intoxicating beverages....” They supported262 this prohibition with the fact that the passage concerning the conferral of the [Priestly] Blessing by a kohen immediately follows the passage concerning a nazirite.263 [Thus the conclusion can be drawn:] Just as a nazirite is forbidden to drink wine, so too, a kohen who delivers the [Priestly] Blessing is forbidden to drink wine.264

[The Sages] granted a kohen who recites the [Priestly] Blessing both the leniencies that apply to a nazirite and those that apply to a person who serves in the [Beis Ha]Mikdash.

The leniencies that apply to a nazirite: A nazirite is permitted [to partake] of other intoxicating beverages. Only the products of a grapevine are forbidden to him. Moreover, he is not disqualified by physical blemishes. Similarly, a kohen who blesses the people is not disqualified by blemishes,265 and [drinking] other intoxicating beverages does not bar him from delivering the Priestly Blessing, as it [would disqualify] one who serves in the [Beis Ha-]Mikdash. Even if [a kohen] becomes so intoxicated that he cannot speak before a king, [he may still confer the Priestly Blessing]. For the conferral of the Priestly Blessing is not analogous to the recitation of Shemoneh Esreh, in which one is standing and speaking to the King.266 In contrast, when conferring the Priestly Blessing, [the kohen] is speaking to the people, (as indicated by the phrase, “Say to them”). [He is disqualified only] if he becomes as drunk as Lot,267 for at such a stage he is exempt from all the mitzvos.268

The leniencies that apply to one who serves in the [Beis Ha]Mikdash: He is permitted to drink a very small amount of wine, and is only forbidden to drink a revi’is [or more].269 This is [implied by the terms] “intoxicating beverages” and “wine,”270 [from which one can infer that] wine [is forbidden only] when [the kohen drinks] enough to become intoxicated. Moreover, even a revi’is is included in this prohibition only if one drinks it in a manner that can be intoxicating, drinking a revi’is at once. If, however, one paused [while drinking] or added some water to it, he is not liable [to the death penalty at the hands of the Heavenly Court].271 This is not true with regard to a nazirite. Similarly, a kohen is permitted to bless [the people] if he drank a revi’is of wine in two [separate] sips or if he mixed a little water with it. If, [however,] he drank more than a revi’is, even if it was mixed [with water] and even if he drank it at several intervals, he should not deliver the Priestly Blessing until the effects of the wine wear off. The influences that cause the effects of wine to wear off are listed in sec. 99[:3-4].

Some authorities forbid [a kohen] who is intoxicated from conferring the Priestly Blessing, even if he was affected by intoxicating beverages or foods other [than wine]. As an initial preference, it is forbidden to drink any intoxicating beverage before conferring the Priestly Blessing. (This is the [accepted] custom.)272 [Thus,] of the leniencies applying to a nazirite, only the [leniency involving] blemishes is [in fact] granted [to kohanim].

נא כֹּהֵן שֶׁהֵמִיר דָּתוֹ,תפט אֲפִלּוּ לְדַת הַיִּשְׁמְעֵאלִים שֶׁאֵינָם עוֹבְדִים עֲבוֹדָה זָרָהתצ – (קְנָסוּהוּ חֲכָמִיםתצא לִהְיוֹת) מְחֻלָּל מִקְּדֻשָּׁתוֹ,תצב וְאֵינוֹ נוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו, וְאֵינוֹ קוֹרֵא בַּתּוֹרָה רִאשׁוֹן.תצג,72 וְהוּא שֶׁלֹּא עָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה, אֲבָל אִם עָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה אֲפִלּוּ הֵמִיר דָּתוֹ לַעֲבוֹדָה זָרָה וְחָזַר בּוֹ – חוֹזֵר לִקְדֻשָּׁתוֹ.תצד

וּשְׁאָר עֲבֵרוֹת חוּץ מִמֵמִיר דָּתוֹ וְשׁוֹפֵךְ דָּמִים אֲפִלּוּ גִּלּוּי עֲרָיוֹת – אֵין מוֹנְעִין נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם אֲפִלּוּ לֹא חָזַר בּוֹ,תצה כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר.תצו,258

לְפִיכָךְ עָרֵל נוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו אֲפִלּוּ לֹא מָל עַצְמוֹ בְּמֵזִיד.תצז וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעָרֵל פָּסוּל לַעֲבוֹדָהתצח,259 – אֵין לְפָסְלוֹ לִנְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם מִשּׁוּם שֶׁהֻקְּשָׁה בְּרָכָה לְשֵׁרוּת, כִּי לֹא הֻקְּשָׁה אֶלָּא לַעֲמִידָה בִּלְבַד, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָה סָעִיף מ"ד.

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, הוֹאִיל וְהֻקְּשָׁה בְּרָכָה לַעֲבוֹדָהתצט בְּמִקְצָת – אָסְרוּ חֲכָמִיםתק,260 לְשִׁכּוֹר לִשָּׂא כַּפָּיו כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָסְרָה תּוֹרָה לְשִׁכּוֹר לַעֲבֹד עֲבוֹדָה בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב:תקא,261 "יַיִן וְשֵׁכָר אֶל תֵּשְׁתְּ וְגו'". וְסָמְכוּתקב,262 אִסּוּר זֶה לְמַה שֶׁנִּסְמְכָה פָּרָשַׁת כֹּהֵן מְבָרֵךְ לְפָרָשַׁת נָזִיר,263 מַה נָזִיר אָסוּר בְּיַיִן – אַף כֹּהֵן מְבָרֵךְ אָסוּר בְּיַיִן.תקג,264

וְנָתְנוּ עַל כֹּהֵן מְבָרֵךְ קֻלֵי נָזִיר וְקֻלֵי מְשָׁרֵת בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ: קֻלֵי נָזִיר, מַה נָזִיר מֻתָּר בִּשְׁאָר מַשְׁקִים הַמְשַׁכְּרִים וְאֵינוֹ אָסוּר אֶלָּא מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר יֵעָשֶׂה מִגֶּפֶן הַיַיִן וְגַם אֵין מוּמִין פּוֹסְלִין בּוֹ – אַף כֹּהֵן מְבָרֵךְ אֵין מוּמִין פּוֹסְלִין בּוֹתקד,265 וְאֵין שְׁאָר מַשְׁקִין הַמְשַׁכְּרִים מוֹנְעִים אוֹתוֹ מִנְּשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִםתקה כְּמוֹ בִּמְשָׁרֵת בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ,תקו אֲפִלּוּ נִשְׁתַּכֵּר עַד שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְדַבֵּר לִפְנֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ,תקז שֶׁנְּשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם אֵינָהּ דּוֹמָה לִתְפִלָּהתקח שֶׁהוּא עוֹמֵד וּמְדַבֵּר עִם הַמֶּלֶךְ,266 מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בִּנְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם שֶׁמְּדַבֵּר אֶל הָעָם (כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָתוּב: "אָמוֹר לָהֶם"), אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הִגִּיעַ לְשִׁכְרוּתוֹ שֶׁל לוֹט,תקט,267 שֶׁאָז פָּטוּר מִכָּל הַמִּצְווֹת.תקי,268

וְקֻלֵי מְשָׁרֵת בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ,תקיא מַה מְשָׁרֵת מֻתָּר בְּיַיִן כָּל שֶׁהוּא וְאֵינוֹ מֻזְהָר אֶלָּא עַל רְבִיעִית,תקיב,269 שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר "שֵׁכָר יַיִן",270 שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ כְּדֵי לְשַׁכֵּר,תקיג וְאַף עַל רְבִיעִית אֵינוֹ בְּאַזְהָרָהתקיד אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁשְּׁתָאוֹ דֶּרֶךְ שִׁכְרוּת רְבִיעִית בְּבַת אַחַת, אֲבָל אִם הִפְסִיק בּוֹ אוֹ שֶׁנָּתַן לְתוֹכוֹ מְעַט מַיִם פָּטוּר,תקטו,271 מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בְּנָזִיר – אַף כֹּהֵן מְבָרֵךְ אִם שָׁתָה רְבִיעִית יַיִן בְּב' פְּעָמִים אוֹ שֶׁנָּתַן לְתוֹכוֹ מְעַט מַיִם מֻתָּר, וְאִם שָׁתָה יוֹתֵר מֵרְבִיעִית אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא מָזוּג וַאֲפִלּוּ שְׁתָאוֹ בְּכַמָּה פְּעָמִים – לֹא יִשָּׂא כַּפָּיו עַד שֶׁיָּסִיר יֵינוֹ מֵעָלָיו.תקטז וּמַה מֵּפִיג אֶת הַיַיִן – נִתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן צ"ט.תקיז

וְיֵשׁ אוֹסְרִיםתקיח שִׁכּוֹר בִּנְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם, אֲפִלּוּ נִשְׁתַּכֵּר מִשְּׁאָר מַשְׁקִין אוֹ אֳכָלִים הַמְשַׁכְּרִים. וּלְכַתְּחִלָּה אָסוּר לִשְׁתּוֹת כְּלָל מַשְׁקֶה הַמְשַׁכֵּר קֹדֶם נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִםתקיט (וְכֵן נוֹהֲגִים).272 וְלֹא נָתְנוּ קֻלֵי נָזִירתקכ אֶלָּא לְעִנְיַן מוּמִין בִּלְבַד:תקכא

52 If [a kohen] is not marked by any of the factors that would bar him from delivering the Priestly Blessing, he may do so even though he acts wickedly, rebels against [G‑d’s] authority, is brazen, is not punctilious in his observance of mitzvos, and people everywhere exchange rumors about him. For it is a positive commandment for every kohen to deliver the Priestly Blessing,273 and we do not tell a wicked person, “Add further wickedness (to your misconduct) and abstain from observing the mitzvos.”

Do not wonder and say, “Of what value will the blessing of this commoner be?” For receiving the blessing does not depend on the kohanim, but on the Holy One, blessed be He, as it is written,274 “And I will bless them.”275 Even if people gossip that [a kohen] committed severe transgressions such as incest and adultery, and even if the rumors are discovered to be true — and even if he transgresses and does not repent at all — he may deliver the Priestly Blessing (with the exception of the public desecration of Shabbos,276 for a person doing this is considered as a non-Jew in all respects).277 [The rationale is that the violation of] other transgressions does not bar the conferral of the Priestly Blessing. The only ones that do are apostasy (as a penalty)278 and manslaughter (because of [the rebuke], “Your hands are full of blood.”)279

נב לֹא הָיָה בּוֹ אֶחָד מֵהַדְּבָרִים הַמְעַכְּבִים נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא רַע מַעֲלָלִים וּבְלִיַּעַל וְעַז פָּנִיםתקכב וְאֵינוֹ מְדַקְדֵּק בְּמִצְווֹת וְכָל הָעָם מְרַנְּנִים אַחֲרָיו – נוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו,תקכג שֶׁמִּצְוַת עֲשֵׂה הִיא לְכָל כֹּהֵן לִשָּׂא כַּפָּיו,273 וְאֵין אוֹמְרִים לָרָשָׁע "הוֹסֵף רֶשַׁע (עַל רִשְׁעָתְךָ) וְהִמָּנַע מִן הַמִּצְווֹת". וְאַל תִּתְמַהּ וְתֹאמַר מַה תּוֹעִיל בִּרְכַּת הֶדְיוֹט זֶה? שֶׁאֵין קַבָּלַת הַבְּרָכָה תְּלוּיָה בַּכֹּהֲנִים אֶלָּא בְּהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:274 "וַאֲנִי אֲבָרְכֵם".תקכד,275 וַאֲפִלּוּ מְרַנְּנִים אַחֲרָיו בַּעֲבֵרוֹת חֲמוּרוֹת כְּגוֹן גִּלּוּי עֲרָיוֹת, וַאֲפִלּוּ נוֹדַע שֶׁהָרִנּוּן הוּא אֱמֶת, וַאֲפִלּוּ עוֹבֵר וְאֵינוֹ חוֹזֵר בּוֹ כְּלָל – נוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיותקכה (חוּץ מֵחִלּוּל שַׁבָּת בְּפַרְהֶסְיָאתקכו,276 שֶׁהוּא כְּנָכְרִי לְכָל דְּבָרָיותקכז),277 לְפִי שֶׁאֵין שְׁאָר עֲבֵרוֹת מוֹנְעִים נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִםתקכח אֶלָּא מֵמִיר דָּת (מִשּׁוּם קְנָסתקכט)278 וּשְׁפִיכַת דָּמִים (מִשּׁוּם "יְדֵיכֶם דָּמִים מָלֵאוּ"תקל):279

53 When does the above apply? When a kohen violates [any of] the commandments that apply equally to Israelites and kohanim. If, however, he violated [any of] the commandments that are unique to the kohanim, the Sages penalized him and disqualified him from all the distinctive qualities of the priesthood. [Thus] a kohen who married [either] a divorcee280 or a woman who underwent chalitzah,281 or a kohen who [willfully] contracted impurity through contact with the corpse282 of a person who was not one of the seven individuals for whom he is commanded to become ritually impure,283 should not confer the Priestly Blessing. He is not to be shown the marks of respect [that are the prerogative of priestly] holiness, and is not even to be called to read from the Torah284 first.

Even if [the kohen] divorced [the woman forbidden to him] or if she died, he is disqualified [from conferring the Priestly Blessing] until he takes a vow that is bound by the discretion of others,285 forbidding himself to receive benefit from women whom he is forbidden to marry, for a vow dependent on the discretion of others cannot be annulled.286 If, however, the vow is not dependent on the discretion of others, it is possible that he will consult a sage and ask to have his vow [annulled. This stringency is taken] because a person’s [Evil] Inclination drives him forcefully towards forbidden relations. In contrast, [a kohen] who would [willfully] contract impurity by contact with a human corpse need not take a vow. It is sufficient that he repent and resolve that in the future he will not [willfully] become impure due to contact with a human corpse.287

נג בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים? כְּשֶׁעוֹבֵר עַל מִצְווֹת שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל וְכֹהֲנִים שָׁוִין בָּהֶם, אֲבָל אִם עוֹבֵר עַל מִצְווֹת הַמְיֻחָדוֹת לַכֹּהֲנִיםתקלא – קְנָסוּהוּ חֲכָמִיםתקלב וּפְסָלוּהוּ מִכָּל מַעֲלוֹת הַכְּהֻנָּה, כְּגוֹן כֹּהֵן שֶׁנָּשָׂא גְּרוּשָׁהתקלג,280 אוֹ חֲלוּצָה,תקלד,281 אוֹ שֶׁנִּטְמָא לְמֵת282 שֶׁאֵינוֹ מִז' מֵתֵי מִצְוָהתקלה,283 – אֵינוֹ נוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו,תקלו וְאֵין נוֹהֲגִים בּוֹ קְדֻשָּׁה אֲפִלּוּ לִקְרוֹת בַּתּוֹרָה רִאשׁוֹן.284

וַאֲפִלּוּ גֵּרְשָׁהּ אוֹ מֵתָה – פָּסוּל עַד שֶׁיִּדֹּר הֲנָאָה עַל דַּעַת רַבִּים285 מֵהַנָּשִׁים שֶׁהוּא אָסוּר בָּהֶן,תקלז שֶׁנֵּדֶר שֶׁהֻדַּר עַל דַּעַת רַבִּים אֵין לוֹ הַתָּרָה.תקלח,286 אֲבָל כְּשֶׁלֹּא יִדֹּר עַל דַּעַת רַבִּים, שֶׁמָּא יֵלֵךְ אֵצֶל חָכָם וְיִשְׁאַל עַל נִדְרוֹ, לְפִי שֶׁיִּצְרוֹ תְּקָפוֹ לַעֲרָיוֹת.תקלט אֲבָל בְּנִטְמָא לַמֵּת אֵין צָרִיךְ לִדֹּר, אֶלָּא דַּי שֶׁיָּשׁוּב וִיקַבֵּל עָלָיו שֶׁלֹּא יִטַּמָּא עוֹד לְמֵתִים:תקמ,287

54 Some authorities maintain that [since it is said],288 “She desecrates her father,” [with regard to] a kohen whose daughter engaged in forbidden relations when she was betrothed,289 one is no longer obligated to show him the marks of respect [that are the prerogative of] priestly holiness, such as calling him to read from the Torah285 first. [By extension, this measure is also applied if she engaged in such relations] even after she was married or if she apostatized, for then it can be assumed that she engaged in forbidden relations. Nevertheless, he may confer the Priestly Blessing, for sins other than those detailed above do not bar him from conferring it even if he himself has committed them. Certainly, this applies if it is his daughter [who has sinned].

(The opinion of these authorities is not accepted [at all], for the phrase, “She desecrates her father,” is applied only when [the daughter] committed adultery while being observed by witnesses who administered a formal warning and later testified in the presence of a court.290 In the present era, by contrast, such [a kohen] is customarily shown all the marks of respect [that are the prerogative of] priestly holiness in every area.)

נד יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםתקמא,288 שֶׁכֹּהֵן שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ בַּת שֶׁזִנְּתָה אֲרוּסָה289 אוֹ אֲפִלּוּ נְשׂוּאָה,תקמב אוֹ שֶׁהֵמִירָהתקמג שֶׁמִּן הַסְּתָם זִנְּתָהתקמד – "אֶת אָבִיהָ הִיא מְחַלֶּלֶת", וְאֵין מְחֻיָּבִים לְקַדְּשׁוֹ עוֹדתקמה לִקְרוֹת בַּתּוֹרָה285 רִאשׁוֹן וּשְׁאָר מַעֲלוֹת הַכְּהֻנָּה.תקמו אֲבָל מִכָּל מָקוֹם נוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו, שֶׁאֵין שְׁאָר עֲבֵרוֹת מוֹנְעִים נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם אֲפִלּוּ הֵן בּוֹ, וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן בְּבִתּוֹתקמז (וְלֹא נָהֲגוּ כְּדִבְרֵיהֶם,תקמח לְפִי שֶׁלֹּא נֶאֱמַרתקמט "אֶת אָבִיהָ הִיא מְחַלֶּלֶת" אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁזִּנְּתָה בְּעֵדִים וְהַתְרָאָה וּכְשֶׁהֵעִידוּ בִּפְנֵי סַנְהֶדְרִין,290 אֲבָל עַכְשָׁו נוֹהֲגִין בּוֹ קְדֻשָּׁה לְכָל דָּבָרתקנ):

55 A chalal, i.e., a son born to [a kohen and] a woman forbidden to the priesthood — viz., a divorcee,291 a zonah,292 or a chalalah293 — may not recite the Priestly Blessing, for he is not of the priesthood. Instead, he is considered as a non-kohen294 in every respect, as stated in Even HaEzer, sec. 7.295 (Hence if he does recite the Priestly Blessing, he violates a positive commandment like [any] non-kohen who recites the Priestly Blessing.296)

Even a person who is a chalal by Rabbinic ordinance, e.g., one born from [relations between a kohen and] a chalutzah, may not confer the Priestly Blessing. Although the conferral of this blessing is a Scriptural [commandment] and he violates it if he is told to come forward [to recite it, and he does not, he should refrain from doing so] because the Sages are authorized to uproot a Scriptural [commandment] in a case in which one remains passive and refrains from action.297

Accordingly, all [those kohanim] who are disqualified by Rabbinic ordinance298 should not confer the Priestly Blessing even if they were told to, as stated above.299 However, those who are disqualified for reasons other than being of blemished [lineage] are advised to leave the synagogue before [the sheliach tzibbur] reaches the passage beginning Retzeh, so that it will not be said that they are of blemished lineage, as stated above. Nevertheless, there is no obligation for them to leave the synagogue, for since the Sages barred them from delivering the Priestly Blessing, they do not transgress at all.

[Different rules apply, however, with regard to] kohanim who refrain from delivering the Priestly Blessing because of a custom, as in places where it is customary that [a kohen] should not recite it throughout the seven days of [shivah] mourning. [This custom was instituted] because in such a situation [the kohen] is not in a happy frame of mind, and a person who confers a blessing must be happy and glad of heart, as we find with regard to [our Patriarch] Yitzchak, who directed that delicacies be prepared for him before he conferred blessings.300

In these countries it is customary that [a kohen] refrains from conferring the Priestly Blessing for the entire mourning period, i.e., even for twelve months when mourning for one’s father or mother, and thirty days when mourning for other relatives. This applies even if there are no other kohanim present, and even on the festivals.301 [Throughout that period] he is not considered to be in a happy frame of mind; as we see, he is forbidden to attend a wedding celebration or the like.

This also applies to one who buried his dead302 during a festival;303 he is forbidden to partake in any rejoicing throughout the festival, even though the laws of mourning have not yet taken effect for him.304 The same applies to an onen,305 even on Yom-Tov: though he is obligated to observe all the mitzvos, he is not in a happy frame of mind. All of these individuals are obligated to leave the synagogue before the sheliach tzibbur calls out “Kohanim!” so that they will not violate a positive commandment, for according to law, they are permitted to confer the Priestly Blessing. They should [preferably] leave [earlier,] before [the sheliach tzibbur begins] Retzeh, so that it will not be said that they are of blemished lineage.

However, if they were told — before [the sheliach tzibbur] completed the passage beginning Retzeh — to ascend the dais or to wash their hands, they are obligated to recite the Priestly Blessing, so that they will not violate a positive commandment. They should therefore not be present in the synagogue when the kohanim are told to wash their hands.

נה הֶחָלָל, דְּהַיְנוּ הַנּוֹלָד מֵאִסּוּרֵי כְּהֻנָּה שֶׁהֵן גְּרוּשָׁה291 זוֹנָה292 חֲלָלָה293 – אֵינוֹ נוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו,תקנא לְפִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ בְּכִהוּנוֹתקנב וַהֲרֵי הוּא כְּזָר294 לְכָל דָּבָר, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּאֶבֶן הָעֶזֶר סִימָן ז'תקנג,295 (לְפִיכָךְ אִם נוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו – עוֹבֵר בַּעֲשֵׂה,תקנד כְּמוֹ זָר שֶׁנָּשָׂא כַּפָּיותקנה).296

וַאֲפִלּוּ חָלָל שֶׁל דִּבְרֵיהֶם, כְּגוֹן הַנּוֹלָד מֵחֲלוּצָה – אֵינוֹ נוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו,תקנו אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנְּשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם הִיא מִן הַתּוֹרָה וְעוֹבֵר בַּעֲשֵׂה אִם אָמְרוּ לוֹ לַעֲלוֹת – יֵשׁ כֹּחַ בְּיָד חֲכָמִים לַעֲקֹר דָּבָר מִן הַתּוֹרָה בְּשֵׁב וְאַל תַּעֲשֶׂה.תקנז,297

וּמִטַּעַם זֶה כָּל הַפְּסוּלִים מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים298 – אֵין עוֹלִין אֲפִלּוּ אָמְרוּ לָהֶם, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָה.תקנח,299 אֶלָּא שֶׁהַפְּסוּלִים שֶׁלֹּא מִפְּנֵי פְּגָמָם – יֵשׁ לָהֶם לָצֵאת מִבֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת קֹדֶם "רְצֵה", שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמְרוּ עֲלֵיהֶם שֶׁהֵם פְּגוּמִים, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר שָׁם. וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם אֵין חִיּוּב עֲלֵיהֶם לָצֵאת מִבֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת, שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁחֲכָמִים מְנָעוּם מִנְּשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם – אֵין עוֹבְרִים כְּלוּם.

אֲבָל כֹּהֲנִים הַנִּמְנָעִים מִנְּשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם מֵחֲמַת הַמִּנְהָג, כְּגוֹן בִּמְקוֹמוֹת שֶׁנָּהֲגוּתקנט שֶׁבְּתוֹךְ ז' יְמֵי הָאֲבֵלוּת אֵינוֹ נוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין שָׁרוּי בְּשִׂמְחָה וְהַמְבָרֵךְ יֵשׁ לוֹ לִהְיוֹת בְּשִׂמְחָה וְטוּב לֵב,תקס כְּמוֹ שֶׁמָּצִינוּ בְּיִצְחָקתקסא שֶׁצִּוָּה לַעֲשׂוֹת לוֹ מַטְעַמִּים קֹדֶם שֶׁיְּבָרֵךְ;300 וּבִמְדִינוֹת אֵלּוּ שֶׁנּוֹהֲגִיםתקסב שֶׁכָּל זְמַן הָאֲבֵלוּת אֲפִלּוּ עַד י"ב חֹדֶשׁ עַל אָבִיו וְעַל אִמּוֹ וְכָל שְׁלוֹשִׁים עַל שְׁאָר קְרוֹבִיםתקסג אֵינוֹ נוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו אֲפִלּוּ אֵין שָׁם כֹּהֵן אֶלָּא הוּאתקסד אֲפִלּוּ בְּיָמִים טוֹבִים,תקסה,301 שֶׁאֵינוֹ נִקְרָא שָׁרוּי בְּשִׂמְחָה שֶׁהֲרֵי אָסוּר לֵילֵךְ לְשִׂמְחַת נִשּׂוּאִין וּכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהּ; וְהוּא הַדִּין הַקּוֹבֵר מֵתוֹ302 בָּרֶגֶל,303 שֶׁהֲרֵי אָסוּר בְּשִׂמְחָה כָּל יְמוֹת הָרֶגֶלתקסו אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעֲדַיִן לֹא חָל עָלָיו הָאֲבֵלוּת,תקסז,304 וְכֵן הָאוֹנֵןתקסח,305 אֲפִלּוּ בְּיוֹם טוֹב שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב בְּכָל הַמִּצְווֹת,תקסט מִכָּל מָקוֹם אֵינוֹ שָׁרוּי בְּשִׂמְחָה – הֲרֵי כֻּלָּם חַיָּבִין לָצֵאת מִבֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת קֹדֶם שֶׁקּוֹרֵא הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר "כֹּהֲנִים" שֶׁלֹּא יַעַבְרוּ בַּעֲשֵׂה,תקע שֶׁהֲרֵי מִן הַדִּין הֵם רַשָּׁאִים לִשָׂא כַּפֵּיהֶם.תקעא

וְיֵשׁ לָהֶם לָצֵאת קֹדֶם "רְצֵה",תקעב כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמְרוּ עֲלֵיהֶם שֶׁהֵם פְּגוּמִים.תקעג

וְאִם אָמְרוּ לָהֶם לַעֲלוֹתתקעד אוֹ לִטֹּל יְדֵיהֶםתקעה – חַיָּבִים לַעֲלוֹת אִם אָמְרוּ לָהֶם קֹדֶם סִיּוּם בִּרְכַּת "עֲבוֹדָה", כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יַעַבְרוּ בַּעֲשֵׂה.תקעו לָכֵן לֹא יִהְיוּ בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת כְּשֶׁאוֹמְרִים לַכֹּהֲנִים לִטֹּל יְדֵיהֶם:תקעז

56 Similarly, if an unmarried kohen does not want to deliver the Priestly Blessing, because one who is without a wife is without joy,306 he must leave the synagogue before the announcement “Kohanim!” is made, so that he will not be told to ascend the dais or to wash his hands.

The custom is, however, that [such a kohen] should deliver the Priestly Blessing. (Nevertheless, if he desires to refrain from reciting it and instead to leave the synagogue, he should not be rebuked, because he has [an authority] upon whom to rely. By contrast, according to all opinions, a married kohen whose wife is not with him should recite the Priestly Blessing.)

נו וְכֵן כֹּהֵן שֶׁהוּא פָּנוּי וְאֵינוֹ רוֹצֶה לִשָּׂא כַּפָּיותקעח מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַשָּׁרוּי בְּלֹא אִשָּׁה שָׁרוּי בְּלֹא שִׂמְחָהתקעט,306 – חַיָּב לָצֵאת מִבֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת קֹדֶם קְרִיאַת "כֹּהֲנִים", שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמְרוּ לוֹ לַעֲלוֹת אוֹ לִטֹּל יָדָיו.

אֲבָל הַמִּנְהָג הוּא שֶׁנּוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ נָשׂוּי (וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם הָרוֹצֶה שֶׁלֹּא לִשָּׂא כַּפָּיו וְלָצֵאת מִבֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת – אֵין מוֹחִין בְּיָדוֹ שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ עַל מַה לִּסְמֹךְ.תקפ אֲבָל נָשׂוּי שֶׁאֵין אִשְׁתּוֹ עִמּוֹ – נוֹשֵׂא כַּפָּיו לְדִבְרֵי הַכֹּלתקפא):

57 The custom in all these lands307 is that the Priestly Blessing is conferred only on a Yom-Tov,308 because then people are in a joyful and festive mood — and “only one who is glad of heart shall bless.”309 On other days, by contrast, even on Shabbos, [the kohanim] are preoccupied with their livelihood and their loss of working hours and they are not in a happy state of mind. Indeed, even on Yom-Tov the Priestly Blessing is conferred only in the Mussaf Service,310 when [directly afterwards] they will leave the synagogue and partake of refreshments and rejoice in the celebration of the festival.

Even though Yom Kippur is not celebrated by eating and drinking, the Priestly Blessing should be conferred then as on a Yom-Tov, because there is the happiness [that results from] the forgiveness, pardon and atonement [that are granted], from the holiness [of the day], and from the fact that one honors it by wearing fine clothing. The Priestly Blessing is therefore conferred in some places even during the Morning Service. In other places it is recited during the Neilah Service as well,311 because this is near the time that we leave the synagogue, as is the reason [for its timing at Mussaf] on other festivals.

When either a Yom-Tov or Yom Kippur falls on Shabbos, the additional holiness of the Shabbos is not an appropriate reason to suspend the Priestly Blessing of that Yom-Tov.312

There are, however, places in which it is customary not to confer the Priestly Blessing when a Yom-Tov falls on Shabbos. [The rationale for their practice can be explained as follows:] Some kohanim customarily immerse [in the mikveh in preparation] for delivering the Priestly Blessing313 [but then] do not engage in marital relations on Yom-Tov.314 Hence when [Yom-Tov] falls on Shabbos, [such kohanim refrain from delivering the Priestly Blessing because] they do not wish to suspend their conjugal duties, and they [also] do not wish to immerse again in the morning for the reason explained in sec. 326[:6].315 (When Yom Kippur falls on Shabbos, this rationale is not relevant.)316

[In fact, however,] if the night of a Yom-Tov that falls during the week is the night of [a woman’s] immersion, the couple should be intimate and the husband should immerse on Yom-Tov. Those who refrain from relations on the night of Yom-Tov and do not immerse before Yom-Tov are acting in utter confusion.

All of the above reasons are given [merely] to justify the [above-described] custom [of refraining from conferring the Priestly Blessing]. Though these reasons are not of sufficient weight to override a positive Scriptural commandment, [people who follow this custom] have not transgressed any [mitzvah] as long as the announcement “Kohanim!” is not made.317 Nevertheless, encouragement is due318 to the inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael and the surrounding lands, who confer the Priestly Blessing every day as the Sages ordained,319 thereby fulfilling three positive mitzvos every day, and who are not concerned about [the need for] immersion.320

In all the Morning and Mussaf Services during which the Priestly Blessing is not delivered in these countries, the sheliach tzibbur should recite the passage Elokeinu v’Elokei avoseinu.321 [This applies] even if he is a kohen, for a kohen was barred from announcing “Kohanim!” and prompting [his fellow kohanim] only for the reason given above.208 It is, however, permitted for him to simply say, “Kohanim, Your holy people,” without calling upon [his fellow kohanim], even as an initial preference.

(There is no reason for concern that because he says “Kohanim, Your holy people,” those hearing him will say that he is not to be counted as a kohen, but is the son of a divorcee or of a woman who has undergone chalitzah,322 since everyone knows that this is the standard text of the prayers. Indeed, for a similar reason, it is permissible for a kohen to call another kohen to [receive an aliyah at the reading of] the Torah, as stated in sec. 135.)323

נז נָהֲגוּ בְּכָל מְדִינוֹת אֵלּוּ307 שֶׁאֵין נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם אֶלָּא בְּיוֹם טוֹב,תקפב,308 מִשּׁוּם שֶׁאָז שְׁרוּיִים בְּשִׂמְחַת יוֹם טוֹב, וְ"טוֹב לֵב הוּא יְבָרֵךְ",309 מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בִּשְׁאָר יָמִים אֲפִלּוּ בְּשַׁבָּתוֹת הֵם טְרוּדִים עַל מִחְיָתָם וְעַל בִּטּוּל מְלַאכְתָּם וְאֵינָם שְׁרוּיִים בְּשִׂמְחָה.תקפג וַאֲפִלּוּ בְּיוֹם טוֹב אֵין נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם אֶלָּא בִּתְפִלַּת מוּסָף,310 שֶׁיּוֹצְאִים אָז מִבֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת וְיֵיטִיבוּ לִבָּם וְיִשְׂמְחוּ בְּשִׂמְחַת יוֹם טוֹב.תקפד

וְיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ שִׂמְחַת אֲכִילָה וּשְׁתִיָּה – נוֹשְׂאִים כַּפַּיִם בּוֹ כְּמוֹ בְּיוֹם טוֹב,תקפה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ שִׂמְחַת מְחִילָה וּסְלִיחָה וְכַפָּרָה וּקְדֻשָּׁה וּכְבוֹד הַיוֹם בְּמַלְבּוּשִׁים נָאִים.תקפו וּמִטַּעַם זֶהתקפז יֵשׁ מְקוֹמוֹת שֶׁנּוֹשְׂאִים כַּפַּיִם בּוֹ אֲפִלּוּ בְּשַׁחֲרִית.תקפח וְיֵשׁ מְקוֹמוֹת שֶׁנּוֹשְׂאִים כַּפַּיִם בּוֹ גַּם בִּנְעִילָה,תקפט,311 מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא סָמוּךְ לַיְצִיאָה מִבֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת, כְּמוֹ שֶׁהוּא הַטַּעַם בִּשְׁאָר יוֹם טוֹב.תקצ

אֲבָל יוֹם טוֹב וְיוֹם כִּפּוּר שֶׁחָל לִהְיוֹת בְּשַׁבָּת – לֹא הָיָה רָאוּי לְפִי זֶה לְבַטֵּל נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם מִיוֹם טוֹב זֶה בִּשְׁבִיל שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ קְדֻשָּׁה נוֹסֶפֶת שֶׁל שַׁבָּת,312 אֶלָּא שֶׁיֵּשׁ מְקוֹמוֹת שֶׁנָּהֲגוּ כֵּן שֶׁלֹּא לִשָּׂא כַּפֵּיהֶם בְּיוֹם טוֹב שֶׁחָל לִהְיוֹת בַּשַּׁבָּת,תקצא לְפִי שֶׁמִּנְהַג הַכֹּהֲנִים לִטְבֹּל לִנְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִםתקצב,313 וְטוֹבְלִין מֵעֶרֶב יוֹם טוֹב וְאֵין נִזְקָקִין לִנְשׁוֹתֵיהֶם בְּיוֹם טוֹב,314 וּכְשֶׁחָל בְּשַׁבָּת לֹא רָצוּ לְבַטֵּל הָעוֹנָה,תקצג וְלֹא רָצוּ לִטְבֹּל שַׁחֲרִית מִטַּעַם שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן שכ"ותקצד,315 (אֲבָל בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים שֶׁחָל בְּשַׁבָּת לֹא שַׁיָּךְ טַעַם זֶה).316 וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם אִם לֵיל יוֹם טוֹב שֶׁחָל בְּאֶמְצַע שָׁבוּעַ שֶׁהוּא לֵיל טְבִילָה – יְשַׁמֵּשׁ וְיִטְבֹּל בְּיוֹם טוֹב. אֲבָל הַפּוֹרְשִׁים מִנְּשׁוֹתֵיהֶם בְּלֵיל יוֹם טוֹב וְאֵין טוֹבְלִין בְּעֶרֶב יוֹם טוֹב – שִׁבּוּשׁ גָּמוּר הוּא.תקצה

וְכָל טְעָמִים אֵלּוּ הֵם לְיַשֵּׁב הַמִּנְהָג אַף שֶׁאֵין בָּהֶם כְּדַאי לְבַטֵּל מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁל תּוֹרָה, מִכָּל מָקוֹם כְּשֶׁאֵין קוֹרְאִים "כֹּהֲנִים"317 – אֵינָם עוֹבְרִים כְּלוּם. אֲבָל מִכָּל מָקוֹם, יִישַׁר כֹּחָם318 שֶׁל בְּנֵי אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל וּסְבִיבוֹתֵיהֶם שֶׁנּוֹשְׂאִים כַּפֵּיהֶם בְּכָל יוֹם כְּתִקּוּן חֲכָמִים,319 וּמְקַיְּמִים ג' מִצְווֹת עֲשֵׂה בְּכָל יוֹם, וְאֵין חוֹשְׁשִׁין לִטְבֹּל.תקצו,320

וְכָל שַׁחֲרִית וּמוּסָף שֶׁאֵין נְשִׂיאַת כַּפַּיִם בִּמְדִינוֹת אֵלּוּ – אוֹמֵר הַשְּׁלִיחַ צִּבּוּר: "אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ בָּרְכֵנוּ כו'",תקצז,321 אֲפִלּוּ הוּא כֹּהֵן,תקצח שֶׁלֹּא מָנְעוּ לַכֹּהֵן אֶלָּא לִקְרוֹת "כֹּהֲנִים" וּלְהַקְרוֹתָן וּמִן הַטַּעַם שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָה,תקצט,208 אֲבָל לוֹמַר כָּךְ "כֹּהֲנִים עַם קְדוֹשֶׁיךָ" סְתָם בְּלֹא קְרִיאָה – מֻתָּר לְכַתְּחִלָּה (וְאֵין לָחוּשׁ שֶׁכְּשֶׁיִּשְׁמְעוּ שֶׁיֹּאמַר "כֹּהֲנִים עַם קְדוֹשֶׁיךָ" יֹאמְרוּ עָלָיו שֶׁהוּא אֵינוֹ בִּכְלַל כֹּהֲנִים אֶלָּא בֶּן גְּרוּשָׁה וַחֲלוּצָה,322 לְפִיתר שֶׁהַכֹּל יוֹדְעִים שֶׁנֻּסַּח הַתְּפִלָּה כָּךְ הוּא,תרא שֶׁמִּטַּעַם כַּיּוֹצֵא בְּזֶה מֻתָּר לְכֹהֵן לִקְרוֹת לְכֹהֵן אַחֵר לְסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן קל"התרב):323

58 [When delivering the Priestly Blessing,] it is customary for the kohanim to turn to face the south and [then] the north324 when reciting the following words: yevarechecha, veyishmerecha, eilecha, viychuneka, eilecha, lecha, and Shalom. The rationale is that since each of these words325 appears in the second person [singular],326 [the kohanim] turn their faces to the south and the north in order that every congregant present be blessed. (The word shalom is also included because it represents the culmination of the blessing, for the [ultimate] blessing of the Holy One, blessed be He, is Shalom — peace.327 All those present are therefore to be blessed with peace.)

It is customary to prolong the final syllable of the above[-listed] words, because each of these words is the conclusion of an individual blessing.328

Those who recite [the passage beginning] “Master of the world, I had a dream...”329 should do so while the kohanim are slowly chanting the melody at the end of the last word of each verse.330 [Reciting the passage at this time is possible] because the blessing at hand has already been concluded by the kohanim and there is no need to listen to them any more. While [the kohanim] are still reciting the words of the blessing, by contrast, one must listen to them attentively and it is forbidden to say anything, as stated above.331

The Sages332 permitted the recitation of the passage beginning “Master of the world...” for one’s dreams because of the danger involved lest the dream require a remedy. Nevertheless, since it is possible to amend the matter by reciting [the passage] while [the kohanim] are singing slowly as they end the words, it should be amended [accordingly].

True, a dream is remedied only when [the passage beginning] “Master of the world...” is recited during the Priestly Blessing and not when the kohanim have completed it. Nevertheless, as long as they are slowly chanting the last syllable of the word in question, that word is not considered as having been completed to the extent that the recitation of [the passage beginning] “Master of the world...” will no longer be effective, (for the congregants have not yet responded Amen).333 [This is true,] even though [the word] is considered as having been completed with regard to the fact that it is no longer necessary to listen to the kohanim, since one has already heard the beginning of the last syllable and one is not at all required to listen to the prolonged chanting of that syllable [by the kohanim].

[This resolution is not entirely acceptable because] with regard to the word Shalom, [the kohanim] sing at length before they sound the final mem of that word. Thus, when a congregant recites [the passage beginning] “Master of the world...” at that time and ends it together with the kohanim, he will not hear the mem of Shalom properly, in silent concentration. Nevertheless, since with regard to [the recitation of] the words veyishmerecha and viychuneka — where the last letter, too, will be audible — the matter can be amended, it should be so amended.

Though [the passage beginning] “Master of the world...” is recited while [the kohanim] are slowly intoning the end of the [third] verse, the prompter should not recite the above passage even if he is not the sheliach tzibbur, for he is even forbidden to respond Amen lest he be distracted.334 It goes without saying that the sheliach tzibbur should not recite [that passage], because it would constitute an interruption of his Shemoneh Esreh.

נח בְּאֵלּוּ הַתֵּבוֹת נָהֲגוּ הַכֹּהֲנִים שֶׁהוֹפְכִין בָּהֶם פְּנֵיהֶם לַדָּרוֹם וְלַצָּפוֹן:324 "יְבָרֶכְךָ", "וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ", "אֵלֶיךָ", "וִיחֻנֶּךְ", "אֵלֶיךָ", "לְךָ", שָׁלוֹם,תרג לְפִי שֶׁכָּל תֵּבוֹת אֵלּוּ325 הֵם לְנוֹכַח,326 לָכֵן הוֹפְכִין פְּנֵיהֶם גַּם לַדָּרוֹם וְלַצָּפוֹן כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּתְבָּרְכוּ כֻּלָּםתרד (וּבְתֵבַת "שָׁלוֹם", מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא סוֹף הַבְּרָכָה וְעִקָּרוֹ, כִּי בִּרְכָתוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא הוּא "שָׁלוֹם",תרה,327 לָכֵן מְבָרְכִים לְכֻלָּם בְּשָׁלוֹם[)].

וְנוֹהֲגִים לְהַאֲרִיךְתרו בְּסוֹףתרז תֵּבוֹת אֵלּוּ, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁכָּל אֶחָד מֵהֶם הוּא סוֹף בְּרָכָה בִּפְנֵי עַצְמָהּ.328

וְנָכוֹן שֶׁהָאוֹמְרִים "רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָםתרח חֲלוֹם חָלַמְתִּי כו'"329 – שֶׁיֹּאמְרוּ בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהַכֹּהֲנִים מַאֲרִיכִים בְּנִגּוּן בְּסוֹף הַתֵּבָהתרט שֶׁבְּסוֹף הַפָּסוּק,תרי שֶׁכְּבָר כָּלְתָה בְּרָכָה זוֹ מִפִּי הַכֹּהֲנִים וְאֵין צָרִיךְ עוֹד לְהַאֲזִין לָהֶם,330 אֲבָל בְּעוֹד שֶׁהֵם אוֹמְרִים תֵּבוֹת הַבְּרָכָה – צָרִיךְ לְהַאֲזִין לָהֶם וּלְכַוֵּן וְאָסוּר לוֹמַר שׁוּם דָּבָר,תריא כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָה.תריב,331

וְאַף שֶׁחֲכָמִים332 הִתִּירוּ לוֹמַר "רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם" עַל חֲלוֹמוֹת מִפְּנֵי הַסַּכָּנָה שֶׁמָּא צָרִיךְ רְפוּאָה לַחֲלוֹמו,ֹתריג מִכָּל מָקוֹם כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לְתַקֵּן זֶה לוֹמַר בִּשְׁעַת הַאֲרָכַת הַנִּגּוּן שֶׁבְּסוֹף הַתֵּבָה – יֵשׁ לְתַקֵּן.תריד

וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁרְפוּאָתוֹ אֵינוֹ אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁאוֹמֵר "רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם כו'" בִּשְׁעַת בִּרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים וְלֹא לְאַחַר שֶׁכָּלְתָה בְּרָכָה מִפִּי כֹּהֲנִים, מִכָּל מָקוֹם כָּל זְמַן שֶׁהֵם מַאֲרִיכִים בְּנִגּוּן הֲבָרַת אוֹת אַחֲרוֹנָה שֶׁל הַתֵּבָה – עֲדַיִן לֹא נִסְתַּיְּמָה תֵּבָה זוֹ לְעִנְיָן שֶׁלֹּא תּוֹעִיל אָז אֲמִירַת "רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם כו'" (כֵּיוָן שֶׁהַצִבּוּר לֹא עָנוּ עֲדַיִן אָמֵןתרטו),333 אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנִּסְתַּיְּמָה לְעִנְיָן שֶׁאֵין צָרִיךְ לְהַאֲזִין עוֹד לַכֹּהֲנִים, כֵּיוָן שֶׁהֶאֱזִין כְּבָר תְּחִלַּת הֲבָרַת אוֹת אַחֲרוֹנָה, וְהַאֲרָכַת הַהֲבָרָה בְּנִגּוּן אֵין צָרִיךְ לִשְׁמֹעַ כְּלָל.תרטז

וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁבְּתֵבַת "שָׁלוֹם" הֵן מַאֲרִיכִים בְּנִגּוּן קֹדֶם שֶׁיֹּאמְרוּ מ"ם שֶׁל "שָׁלוֹם", וּכְשֶׁאוֹמְרִים אָז "רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם" וּמְסַיְּמִים עִם הַכֹּהֲנִים אִם כֵּן אֵין שׁוֹמֵעַ הַמ"ם שֶׁל שָׁלוֹם כָּרָאוּי לִשְׁמֹעַ בְּשְּׁתִיקָה וְכַוָּנָה, מִכָּל מָקוֹם בְּתֵבַת "וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ" "וִיחֻנֶּךָּ" שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר לְתַקֵּן שֶׁיִּשְׁמְעוּ גַּם הָאוֹת הָאַחֲרוֹנָה – מְתַקְּנִים.תריז

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם, אַף שֶׁאוֹמְרִים "רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם" כְּשֶׁהֵם מַאֲרִיכִים בְּנִגּוּן סוֹף הַפָּסוּק – לֹא יֹאמַר הַמַּקְרֵא "רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם כו'"תריח אֲפִלּוּ אֵינוֹ שְׁלִיחַ צִּבּוּר, שֶׁהֲרֵי אֲפִלּוּ לַעֲנוֹת אָמֵן אָסוּר מִפְּנֵי הַטֵּרוּף.תריט,334 וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר שֶׁהַשְּׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר לֹא יֹאמַר "רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם", מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא הֶפְסֵק בַּתְּפִלָּה:תרכ

59 [At least] once a year, every kohen should do something that confirms his priestly status, such as accepting the priestly dues,335 if he cannot deliver the Priestly Blessing due to forces beyond his control. This applies if, for example, he [is a teacher and] instructs his students at the time the congregation assembles in the synagogue, or if he has a digestive ailment and cannot refrain from relieving himself until after the Priestly Blessing.

נט כָּל כֹּהֵן יֵשׁ לוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹת שׁוּם דָּבָר פַּעַם אַחַת בַּשָּׁנָה לְהַחֲזִיק אֶת עַצְמוֹ בִּכְהֻנָּה, כְּגוֹן לִקַּח מַתָּנוֹתתרכא,335 אִם אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִשָׂא כַּפָּיו מֵחֲמַת אֵיזֶה אֹנֶס,תרכב כְּגוֹן שֶׁמְּלַמֵּד לְתַלְמִידָיו בְּעֵת שֶׁהַצִבּוּר נֶאֱסָפִים לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת,תרכג אוֹ שֶׁהוּא חוֹלֶה בְּמֵעָיו וְאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְשַׁהוֹת נְקָבָיו עַד גְּמַר בִּרְכַּת כֹּהֲנִים:תרכד

60 It is forbidden to make use of a kohen, even in the present era,336 and one who does so is likened to one who makes improper use of a sacred object.337 For concerning [a kohen] it is written,338 “And you shall sanctify him, because he offers the food of your G‑d.” Even though sacrifices are not offered in the present era, [his inherent] sanctity remains intact.

Nevertheless, if a kohen waives the honor due him one may make use of him, for the priesthood is his, and he is permitted to forego his honor and allow an Israelite to make use of him.

On the other hand, there is an authority who maintains that a kohen may not give an Israelite permission to make use of him unless [the kohen] derives benefit from it, e.g., he receives payment. [He is considered as having been paid] even if [he performs services] free of charge for a distinguished personage whom he desires to serve, and regarding whom he derives satisfaction from the merit of serving in [the aura of his] holiness.339 [According to this authority,] if the kohen derives no benefit from [the service he renders], he may not forego [the honor due him], as implied by the command, “And you shall sanctify him” — and this the Sages understand340 as implying that [this honor must be granted him even] against his will.

(The halachah follows the first opinion. For [a kohen] can allow an Israelite to read [from the Torah]285 and recite the blessings before him even though he receives no benefit from that, as explained in sec. 135341 and sec. 201.342 The concept that he must be sanctified even against his will is applied only in matters that are dependent on the holiness of the kohanim, i.e., that he may not profane his holiness by marrying a divorcee or the like. For the holiness of the kohanim was not granted to them for their physical benefit, just as the holiness of the Jewish people was not granted to them for their physical benefit, for mitzvos were not granted for satisfaction.343 Rather, the Jewish people are subject to a Royal decree that they must conduct themselves with holiness, since they were chosen to be servants of the holy King. For it is written,344 “And you shall be holy, because [I, the L‑rd your G‑d,] am holy,” and it is likewise written,345 “And [the kohen] shall be holy [unto you], because I am holy.” [This level of sanctity] is not his to waive. The honor of the priesthood, by contrast, was given to the kohanim for their benefit. [This includes the right] to receive the first aliyah to the Torah, to take a choice serving first, and to be shown precedence with regard to any holy matter.346 This honor involves physical satisfaction. Therefore it is the prerogative of a kohen to forego it and he may grant [these privileges] to an Israelite if he desires, for “it is by respecting a man’s will that you honor him.”347)

ס אָסוּר לְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בְּכֹהֵןתרכה אֲפִלּוּ בִּזְּמַן הַזֶּהתרכו,336 וּכְמוֹעֵל בַּהֶקְדֵּשׁ הוּא,337 שֶׁהֲרֵי נֶאֱמַר338 "וְקִדַּשְׁתּוֹ כִּי אֶת לֶחֶם אֱלֹהֶיךָ הוּא מַקְרִיב".תרכז וְאַף עַכְשָׁו שֶׁאֵין לָנוּ קָרְבָּנוֹת – בִּקְדֻשָּׁתוֹ הוּא עוֹמֵד.

וְאִם הַכֹּהֵן הוּא מוֹחֵל עַל כְּבוֹדוֹ – מֻתָּר, שֶׁהַכְּהֻנָּה שֶׁלּוֹ הִיא וְיָכוֹל לִמְחֹל כְּבוֹדוֹתרכח וְלִתֵּן רְשׁוּת לְיִשְׂרָאֵל לְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בּוֹ.

וְיֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵרתרכט שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִתֵּן רְשׁוּת לְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בּוֹ, אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן יֵשׁ לוֹ אֵיזֶה הֲנָאָה כְּגוֹן בְּשָׂכָר,תרל אוֹ אֲפִלּוּ בְּחִנָּם לְאָדָם חָשׁוּב שֶׁהוּא חָפֵץ לְשַׁמְּשׁוֹ וְנֶהֱנֶה מִזֶּה שֶׁזָּכָה לְשָׁרֵת בַּקֹּדֶשׁ,339 אֲבָל אִם אֵין לוֹ שׁוּם הֲנָאָה מִזֶּה – אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לִמְחֹל, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: "וְקִדַּשְׁתּוֹ", וְדָרְשׁוּ חֲכָמִים:תרלא,340 קַדְּשֵׁהוּ בְּעַל כָּרְחוֹ.

(וְהָעִקָּר כַּסְּבָרָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָה, שֶׁהֲרֵי יָכוֹל לִתֵּן רְשׁוּת לְיִשְׂרָאֵל לִקְרוֹת285 וּלְבָרֵךְ לְפָנָיו אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין לוֹ שׁוּם הֲנָאָה מִזֶּה,תרלב כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן קל"התרלג,341 ור"א.תרלד,342 וְאֵין אוֹמְרִים "וְקִדַּשְׁתּוֹ" בְּעַל כָּרְחוֹ אֶלָּא בִּדְבָרִים הַתְּלוּיִים בִּקְדֻשַּׁת הַכֹּהֲנִים, שֶׁאֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי לְחַלֵּל קְדֻשָּׁתוֹ וְלִשָּׂא גְּרוּשָׁה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהּ, לְפִי שֶׁקְּדֻשַּׁת הַכֹּהֲנִים לֹא נִתְּנָה לָהֶם לֵהָנוֹת בָּהּ גּוּפָם, כְּמוֹ שֶׁקְּדֻשַּׁת יִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא נִתְּנָה לֵהָנוֹת בָּהּ גּוּפָם, שֶׁמִּצְווֹת לָאו לֵהָנוֹת נִתְּנוּתרלה,343 אֶלָּא גְּזֵרַת מֶלֶךְ הִיא עֲלֵיהֶם שֶׁיִּהְיוּ קְדוֹשִׁים, הוֹאִיל וְנִבְחֲרוּ לְשָׁרֵת לַמֶּלֶךְ הַקָּדוֹשׁ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב:תרלו,344 "קְדֹשִׁים תִּהְיוּ כִּי קָדוֹשׁ" וְגו',345 "קָדֹשׁ יִהְיֶה ... כִּי קָדוֹשׁ וְגו'", לְפִיכָךְ אֵינָהּ בְּיָדָם לְמָחְלָהּ. אֲבָל כְּבוֹד הַכְּהֻנָּה נִתַּן לָהֶם לַהֲנָאָתָם, לַעֲלוֹת לַתּוֹרָה רִאשׁוֹן, וְלִטֹּל מָנָּה יָפָה רִאשׁוֹן, וְכֵן לְהַקְדִּימָם לְכָל דָּבָר שֶׁבִּקְדֻשָּׁה,תרלז,346 כָּבוֹד זֶה הֲנָאַת הַגּוּף הוּא, לְפִיכָךְ הוּא בְּיָדָם לִמְחֹל כְּבוֹדָם, וְרַשַּׁאי לִתְּנוֹ לְיִשְׂרָאֵל אִם רָצָה,תרלח כִּי רְצוֹנוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם – זֶהוּ כְּבוֹדוֹתרלט):347