Cohen-Levi: The Tribe, the Family Heritage

Procedure for the Blessing of the Kohanim

During the Musaf service of the major holidays, and daily in most places in Eretz Yisrael, Kohanim recite Birkat Kohanim, the traditional Kohans' blessing. the following is a guide for this unique Mitzvah, which is carried out by a 'cue' given by the Chazan in his repetition of the service, and the appropriate response by the Kohanim.

Cue: Completion of the Kedusha

Response: Untie your shoelaces. A Levi washes your hands to the wrists from a cup. In the absence of a Levi, the washing is performed by a firstborn Yisrael or by the Kohen himself. Cue: At the world Retzeh, after the blessing Shomea Tefila.

Response: Remove your shoes without touching them, leaving them discretely out of sight and approach the Duchan area in front of the Ark.

Cue: The recitation of Modim.

Response: While facing the Ark, recite Modim deRabanim with the congregation. On concluding Modim, cover your head and arms held at shoulder height with the Tallit. Recite preparatory prayer, finishing as the Chazan concludes the blessing.

Cue: The call of Kohanim.

Response: Recite the preliminary blessing. Upon reaching the word vetzivanu, turn towards the right until facing the congregation. While turning, extend your fingers to the required position (a space between the thumb and index-finger and another space between the middle and ring fingers, with thumbs of both hands touching at the joints, with the right hand slightly elevated.

Cue: The Chazan leads the blessing beginning with ve'varache'cha..

Response: Repeat each word of the blessing after the chazan. At the words ending with final chof, and at the conclusion word, Shalom, slowly swing your arms from side to side. In some congregations, Kohanim chant a melody before the concluding word of each of the three sections. Remain facing the congregation with outstretched arms.

Cue: The Chazan begins Sim Shalom.

Response: When the Chazan begins Sim Shalom, slowly turn to the right until facing the Ark and lower your arms. Recite the Rebono Shel Olam, concluding prayer, finishing together with the Chazan as he concludes the Sim Shalom blessing.

Cue: 'Amen' of the congregation to Sim Shalom.

Response: Retreat while facing the Ark, and return to your seat. There are those who wait for the conclusion of Kaddish before returning.

Note: This is a general guideline for Birkat Kohanin. The Center for Kohanim welcomes your questions and input.

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