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Shulchan Oruch Mishnah Berurah 128 (8) [25] implies that the Kohanim should go up to bless the people after the prayer leader has said "Retzei".

I see that many knowledgeable Kohanim start going up before Retzei.

I can understand that the Kohanim might walk after washing their hands to a place from where they can reach the "duchan" easily. But I do not understand why they do not start their final journey to the duchan at Retzei.

Please explain.

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What do you mean by "their final journey"? Do you mean climbing steps? What difference, for example, between Kohanim who wash their hands outside and re-enter the Shul before Retzeh, and Kohanim who wash, return to their places, and then start to walk towards the Duchan? Just the fact that one took extra steps to return to his place? They can't just stand around and clog the area where the other Kohanim are trying to wash. They do have to take some steps, so why not toward the Duchan? –  Seth J Aug 5 '13 at 20:08
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What I have seen in multiple places is that the kohanim make sure to be in their place in the front before the chazzan starts "Retzei." I have even seen the chazzan pause before "Retzei" to make sure that all the kohanim had time to make it up there. –  Isaac Moses Aug 5 '13 at 20:57
    
To echo @Isaac, I'm also under the impression that, if a Kohen is not in place and ready to ascend at Retzeh, he may not go up. –  Seth J Aug 5 '13 at 21:24
    
The halacha is talking about the last moments a Cohen has to be up there,once he finishes retzei he can't go up,but going early is not a problem. –  sam Aug 5 '13 at 22:02
    
@sam, that sounds like an answer, especially if you can source or argue for it. Care to post it as one? –  msh210 Aug 5 '13 at 23:05

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