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When the Cohanim go up to "duchen" by Bircas Cohanim they take off their shoes. I've seen in some places carpets put out for the Cohanim to stand on. Why do they stand on these carpets? What is this minhag? Where does it come from? (It should be noted however that I haven't seen this in every shul or shteibel that I've davened in.)

(In Yerushalayim and other parts of Eretz Yisrael we are zoche to have Bircas Cohanim everyday so this is more common thing to see I suppose, in Chutz L'Aretz however this might not have been seen at all since Bircas Cohanim is only a few times a year.)

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Actually, Bircas Cohanim is said every day even outside of Israel in many non-Ashkenazi communities. –  Double AA Oct 14 '12 at 21:01
    
Forgive me for forgetting about the Sephardim ;) –  Yehoshua Oct 14 '12 at 21:09
    
I personally can't do that, and you'll have to look hard to find a Teimani willing to forgive you for forgetting him twice. –  Double AA Oct 14 '12 at 21:38
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Once in your question, once in your first comment. –  Double AA Oct 14 '12 at 21:41
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Perhaps the carpets are put out by the community to honour the cohanim and to avoid their feet getting cold on the marble floors. (It might be better to make them train for the 3rd Temple where they will have to do the service barefoot). –  Avrohom Yitzchok Oct 15 '12 at 17:57

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Cohanim are supposed to "go up" to duchen. Many shuls and shtibels in Israel do not have steps leading up the the Aaron HaKodesh. So how do the Cohanim "go up"?

At the Kosel they used to have tiny "one man" platforms for this. (I haven't seem them recently, but I haven't been there for Shachris in many years.)

A mat or carpet would serve the same purpose; an elevation.

(That's besides the comfort issue - of not standing on a cold marble floor in socks - which may be a reason.)

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Can you source your first sentence? (I know the word ole is used, but is it literal? It's also used about going to Israel or satisfying an obligation ("ole lo sh'nayim") for example.) –  msh210 Nov 1 '12 at 14:58
    
An elevation of 1/4 inch? That doesn't even make up for their lack of shoes. –  Double AA Nov 1 '12 at 15:12
    
@DoubleAA Perhaps somewhat symbolic. Every Talmid Chacham I spoke to also said this (idea of "going up".) Or because the floor is cold! –  Yehoshua Nov 1 '12 at 19:37
    
@DoubleAA Yehoshua, I think it's more symbolic. I've seen even a plastic table cloth used –  zaq Nov 1 '12 at 21:06

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