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 Hilchos Tefilla 128 (page 15)
 מסעיף לג עד סעיף לו

Mispronounced Words
An Underage Kohein
A Kohein who Killed Someone

Mispronounced words
A kohein who cannot enunciate the words of birkas kohanim properly cannot recite the beracha. Such a kohein may recite the beracha if many among the local population mispronounce certain words or letters, because in that case his pronunciation will not distract them. Furthermore, since the locals are unable to pronounce the words differently, this becomes their form of expression and it is not considered a mistake. It is also permissible for the kohein to recite the blessing if a small, but noticeable, segment of the community also mispronounces words, because his mispronunciation will not distract people in that case either. There is an opinion which forbids him from reciting the beracha if his pronunciation alters the meaning of the words and the majority of locals articulate their words correctly. In this case, the kohein's slang cannot be understood to have the correct meaning.
( סעיף לג, ס"ק קכ, ושעה"צ ס"ק צג; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 128)
An underage kohein
An underage kohein cannot recite the blessing alone. He may join other kohanim when he reaches the age that he is able to raise his hands and spread his fingers in line with the custom. From the age of thirteen until his beard fills in, or from the time his beard begins to sprout until he turns eighteen, he may recite the blessing alone only on an irregular basis. (He may recite the blessing regularly if no other kohein is available.) In communities that recite the blessing only on the Shalosh Regalim, the recitation is considered irregular and the youth may recite the beracha alone every time. According to some poskim, he may recite the beracha regularly in a minyan of young people whose beards have not yet grown.
( סעיף לד, ס"ק קכא, קכג, קכד, קכה ו־קכו; וביה"ל ד"ה ומיהו; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 131-132)
A kohein who killed someone
A kohein who killed a person is barred from ever reciting the blessing. He is disqualified whether the death was intentional or accidental, and -- according to some poskim -- even if he did teshuva. According to other poskim including the Rama, he can be reinstated by doing teshuva. A third opinion holds that teshuva helps only in the case of an accidental death. If the victim was deathly ill or lingered a few days before dying, the kohein is not disqualified as a result of an accidental death. According to some authorities, someone who was forced to kill is not disqualified. The poskim discuss whether this rule applies to a kohein who kills a goy or only to one who kills a Yid.
( סעיף לה, ס"ק קכח-קלא, וביה"ל ד"ה אפילו בשוגג וד"ה אפילו עשה; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 133, 134 ו־135)

  • A kohein who has not yet recited Shema or Shemoneh Esrei and is faced with a choice between reciting birkas kohanim and missing zman tefilla should exit the shul and recite Shema or Shemoneh Esrei.
  • Today, since the kohanim cover their hands and faces with a tallis and wear stockings on their feet, a disfigured kohein may recite the blessing without concern of distracting people.
  • According to some poskim, a kohein who feels he will need to use the bathroom but thinks he can wait the 'span of a parsa' (72 minutes) is permitted to recite the blessing. 


  • A kohein who is an apostate

  • A kohein who desecrates Shabbos

  • A kohein who kills someone


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.