1 678

When to count sefira when davening early
What if someone davened ma'ariv with an early minyan (after plag and before shkia, or between shkia and tzeis) but he would prefer not to count sefira that early? Although he would rather count sefira at the optimal time, he is worried that if he does not count along with the minyan he will forget to count later. In this situation, both the Mechaber and Rama advocate counting with the congregation, but without a beracha. By counting early, he will at least fulfill the mitzvah according to those opinions that permit counting after plag or shkia respectively. Later that evening (after tzeis) he should count again with a beracha. The Mishnah Berurah notes that before counting early, the person should bear in mind that he does not wish to fulfill the mitzvah with this counting if he will count again later. Making this condition will enable him to count later with a beracha.
(סעיף ג, ס"ק טז-יז וביה"ל ד"ה מבעוד)

 Hilchos Tefilla 128 (page 12)
 מסימן קכח סעיף כד עד סעיף כו

Facing the Kohanim
Standing Before the Kohanim
Passing Someone Davening to Stand Before the Kohanim

Facing the kohanim
Birkas kohanim must be spoken 'like a man talking to his friend.' The kohanim and congregation should stand facing each other. Those standing before the kohanim should face the front of the shul and those standing parallel to the kohanim should turn to face the kohanim. Those standing behind the kohanim [at the very front of the shul, such that their backs would face the kohanim during the beracha] should move to the middle of the shul to be in front of the kohanim. Ideally, the kohanim should position themselves so that nothing should block their view of the people (e.g. the chazan's amud). It is reported that some gedolim made a point of standing directly in front of the kohanim.
( סעיף כד, ס"ק צג-צה, וביה"ל ד"ה אבל; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 97-98)
Standing before the kohanim
People who are present for birkas kohanim but do not bother to stand before the kohanim demonstrate that they do not care for the beracha and are excluded from the blessings. This is also the case for people who are able to attend the beracha in shul but do not trouble themselves to do so. Even neighbors whose home faces the kohanim are excluded if they don't come to shul. However, those who come to shul but choose to listen to the beracha while standing outside facing toward the kohanim [as women often do] are included in the blessing. Likewise, people anywhere who are unable to come to shul for the beracha are considered onusim and are included in the blessing.
( סעיף כד, ס"ק צו, וביה"ל ד"ה אם)
Passing someone davening to stand before the kohanim
Someone davening Shemoneh Esrei behind the kohanim is considered an oneis and is included in the blessing.  The same is true for a person who cannot get to a place in front of the kohanim because he would have to pass in front of someone who is davening. According to some poskim, in these instances the person should turn around in his place in order to face the kohanim. It is permissible to pass alongside someone davening Shemoneh Esrei in order to stand before the kohanim for the beracha. According to this opinion, it is permissible to initially daven in a place that will require one to pass on the side of others who are davening.
( ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 99)

  • The kohanim and congregation must remain focused on the beracha.  Both the kohanim and congregation should avoid gazing at the kohanim's hands and certainly at other items. In the times of the Beis Hamikdash, it was forbidden to look at their hands because the Shechina rested there. To commemorate this, it is customary to avoid even briefly glancing at the kohanim's hands.
  • It has become the practice for the kohanim to cover their faces and hands, and in many congregations everyone present covers his face with his tallis during the beracha. This custom should not be altered, since a change in custom is likely to cause people to become distracted.
  • According to the Mechaber, if the chazan is a kohein and will recite the birkas kohanim, he should go to the front of the shul together with the other kohanim. Others hold-and the custom follows this opinion-that he should recite the blessing from where he is.


  • Reciting the blessing during Shemoneh Esrei

  • Reciting the blessing in the middle of Pesukei D'zimra or Birkas Kriyas Shema

  • Adding or detracting from the blessing


PLEASE NOTE:  The information in this email is for learning purposes only. Please review the Mishna Berura and Biurim U'Musafim before making a halachic decision. Hebrew words are occasionally transliterated to enable a smoother reading of the text. Common Ashkenazi pronunciation is generally used in these cases.