1 678
sefira through 
shomeia k'oneh
All mitzvos that involve speech, such as making berachos, etc, are subject to the rule of "shomea k'oneh" (listening is like speaking),  meaning that it is possible to fulfill them through hearing someone else say the words, as long as both the listener and speaker intend to fulfill the mitzvah this way. Mishnah Berurah writes that the Acharonim discuss whether this rule applies to sefiras haomer. One reason why shomeia k'oneh may not apply to sefira, writes Rav Scheinberg, is that sefira is more than a simple counting; it also represents the person's longing to accept the Torah.  This emotion cannot be transmitted through an intermediary. The Biur Halacha adds that if someone listened to his friend count in order to fulfill the mitzvah, he may not have fulfilled his obligation and he should therefore count again himself without a beracha.
(ס"ק ה וביה"ל ד"ה ומצוה; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 15)
 Hilchos Tefilla 128 (page 4)
  מסעיף ב עד סעיף ה

Birkas Kohanim Multiple Times in a Day
A Kohein Who Refuses to Bentch
A Kohein Who is Unable to Recite the Blessing

Birkas kohanim multiple times in a day
In introducing the mitzva of birkas kohanim the Torah uses the expression "tell them," from which Chazal understood that the kohanim do not perform the beracha until they are instructed to do so. It is customary for the chazan or some other member of the congregation to announce " kohanim" just before they are to begin their beracha. A kohein may perform the mitzva multiple times a day.  If he does so, he should recite the preceding birchas hamitzva each time, just as someone who dons tefillin multiple times recites a beracha each time.  Though permitted, the kohein is not obligated to perform the beracha more than once a day. If he already performed the beracha that day, he does not need to perform it a second time -- even if he is instructed to do so by the congregation and even if there is a Musaf tefilla on that day. If he chooses not to recite the blessing in these situations, however, he should leave the shul.  That way, he will avoid creating doubts about whether he is an authentic kohein in the minds of those who see him refraining from participation.
( סעיף ב-ג וס"ק ט ו־יא; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 16-18)
A kohein who refuses to bentch
A kohein is obligated to recite birkas kohanim if he is instructed to do so by the congregation or if he is present when the chazan announces " kohanim." If he fails to recite the blessing, he violates a severe issur which is derived from the three expressions of 'command' that the Torah uses regarding this mitzva. A kohein must head towards the front of the shul when the chazan starts the beracha of Retzei. If he does not head towards the front at that point, it is forbidden for him to recite birkas kohanim. A kohein who did not head towards the front at Retzei is not in violation of the mitzva if he does not bless when instructed by the chazan or congregation.  Some poskim question whether such a kohein is indeed exempt from the mitzva. A kohein who left the shul before being called to recite birkas kohanim is not in violation of the mitzva, but it is wrong for a kohein to leave the shul without good cause.
( סעיף ב, ס"ק ח-י, וביה"ל ד"ה אינם; וראה ד"ה או; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 20)
A kohein who is unable to recite the blessing
A kohein who is weak and unable to recite the blessing is exempt, but he should leave the shul before the chazan reaches Retzei. If he remains in his place, he may be told to step forward later and then be unable to leave, and -- even worse -- people might cast aspersions on his lineage. A kohein who is forbidden to recite the beracha for a commonly-known halachic reason does not need to walk out. If there are no other kohanim present, he should leave prior to Retzei. A kohein who left for birkas kohanim should not reenter until the other kohanim have completed the blessing.
( סעיף ד וס"ק יב; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 19)


  • There is a mitzva for the Kohanim to bless the people, as it says "so shall you bless the bnei Yisrael." The poskim discuss whether there is a mitzva for the people to be present for the beracha.
  • It is forbidden for a non-kohein to perform birkas kohanim. According to some poskim, the prohibition is limited to blessing with raised hands in the manner that the kohanim bless the people, but other poskim hold that it is assur in all situations.
  • Ten adult males must be present to recite birkas kohanim, and the kohanim are counted towards the minyan.

  • Without shoes

  • Washing hands before the beracha

  • Passing in front of someone davening in order to wash hands


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.