Thursday, May 20, 2010

The role of the chazan in Birkat Kohanim


Regarding the blessing conveyed to the Jews by the kohanim:

"The chazan [who recites each word ahead of the kohanim] is the agent who draws influence in a 'pipeline' from the source of blessing first, pouring it as a blessing upon the heads of the kohanim.

"The chazan first says to the kohen, 'May Gd bless you,' so as to make the kohen a vessel full to overflowing with the blessing of Gd. Then, when the kohen says to the Jews, 'May Gd bless you,' he pours from this full vessel into an empty vessel.

"Were the kohen not blessed first, he would be pouring from one empty vessel into another."

(Kli Yakar to Bamidbar 6:23, expanding an idea expressed by Rabbeinu Bechayye)

Have a great day,


  1. I have always thought it more proper for the Cantor to call the words quietly to the Kohanim, who then recite it loudly to the congregation. After all, Bircas Kohanim is more about the Kohanim than the Cantor, no matter how pleasant his voice is. However, I’ve been in Shuls where the Cantor’s words to the Kohanim are loud, even dramatic. Perhaps this Torah Thought supports such presentation, explaining that the Cantor has the very important role of “loading” the words of the blessing into the Kohanim, rather than simply reminding them of the next word in the sequence. (Unfortunately, I’m still turned off by overly dramatic Cantors, although “overly dramatic” is a subjective assessment.)

  2. Anonymous-

    I think it does support a more vocal chazan - but I'm with you on personal preference...