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Woman Counting Sefira
According to the Ramban, women are required to count sefira. However, many other Rishonim consider sefira a mitzvas aseh shehazman grama, a category of mitzvah from which women are exempt. This is the general consensus of the Poskim. The Magen Avrohom writes that even though women are exempt, they have accepted this mitzvah upon themselves. The Mishnah Berurah, though, cites the lenient opinion and writes that it is not the custom of women in Eastern Europe to count. He adds that even if women do count, they should do so without a beracha since it is likely that they will miscount one night and thereby not fulfill the mitzvah completely. Rav Elayshiv allows a meticulous woman to count with a beracha.
(ס"ק ג; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 6 ו-9)

 Hilchos Tefilla 128 (page 5)
 מסעיף ה עד אמצע סעיף ו והלוי

Without Shoes
Washing Hands Before the Beracha
Passing in Front of Someone Davening in Order to Wash Hands

Without shoes 
Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai instituted that kohanim may not recite the birkas kohanim while wearing shoes. He was concerned that a lace could rip, causing the kohein to attempt to repair it instead of reciting the beracha. People seeing that he did not participate might then cast aspersions on his lineage. All forms of shoes, even shoes without laces, are included in the ban. Soiled shoes cannot be worn for the additional reason that it is disrespectful to the congregation. According to some, tall clean boots or cloth footwear can be worn during the beracha, but the universal minhag is to remove all footgear.
( סעיף ה וס"ק טו-יח (והפרי חדש המוזכר שם); ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 23)
Washing hands before the beracha
Kohanim serving in the Beis Hamikdash were required to wash their hands [and feet] from the kior before beginning their service. Chazal mandated that the kohanim must likewise wash their hands prior to the beracha. According to some poskim, the rules of this washing parallel the rules of washing from the kior -- i.e. washing must be done with a reviis of water that is acceptable for washing for bread and poured by a person from a keli. The poskim discuss whether chatzitzos (interferences) must be removed. It seems that the Mishna Berura does not require the removal of chatzitzos, and this is the opinion of some contemporary poskim.
( סעיף ו וס"ק יט ו־כא; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 29)
Passing in front of someone davening in order to wash hands
The kohanim should wash their hands during chazaras hashatz close to the beracha of Retzei, so that the washing can be done just before the beracha or as close to it as possible. According to some poskim, a kohein may pass near -- but not directly in front of -- someone davening Shemoneh Esrei on his way to go to wash. Passing near people davening is permitted when necessary, and the need to fulfill this mitzva is sufficient reason to permit it. According to a second opinion, the need to wash overrides the prohibition of passing in front of those davening. The same machlokes applies to a kohein passing in front of someone davening in order to recite the beracha. According to the first opinion, he may only pass near the person davening; according to the second opinion, he may even pass in front.
( ביה"ל ד"ה חוזרים; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 26)

  • A kohein may perform the mitzva multiple times in one 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. However, the kohein is not obligated to perform the beracha more than once a day.
  • 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 who is weak and unable to recite the blessing is exempt, but he should leave the shul before the chazan reaches Retzei.

  • The levi washes the kohein's hands

  • A beracha on this washing and the question of whether the levi should wash his own hands first

  • Stepping forward during Retzei


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.