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A friends of mine who is a Kohen told me that he once ended up in Washington Heights for Yom Tov and showed up at Breuer's (German minhag) on Yom Tov morning. The Gabbai asked him if he was a Kohen, and after answering affirmatively, the Gabbai sighed, and called over another Kohen to give him a quick lesson in how the tune goes. Apparently, in addition to ...


I have had this same question for some time, and in addition to the answer that paquda provided, I have come across the following answer, although it doesn't satisfy me that much. The source for mentioning dreams comes from the Gemara in Berachos 55b האי מאן דחזא חלמא ולא ידע מאי חזא, ליקום קמי כהני בעידנא דפרסי ידייהו The Soncino translation: If ...


The Bavli on Sota 39b says that one should respond - and the wording there is almost identical to the Yerushalmi: בזמן שהכהנים מברכים את העם מה הן אומרים אמר ר' זירא אמר רב חסדא ברכו ה' מלאכיו גבורי כח וגו' ברכו ה' כל צבאיו משרתיו עושי רצונו ברכו ה' כל מעשיו בכל מקומות ממשלתו ברכי נפשי את ה' במוספי דשבתא מה הן אומרים אמר רבי אסי שיר המעלות הנה ברכו את ה' ...


I once heard, but I don't recall where, that there is another possible reason to say it even if you didn't have a bad dream - part of the Ribbono Shel Olam mentions dreams that others have had about you, which you will most likely not be aware of.


Rabbi Israel Isserlein ruled (Terumat HaDeshen 26) that the Kohanim may only use one tune for the entire duration of the blessings lest they come to make a mistake in saying the words properly. This ruling is codified in Shulchan Aruch (OC 128:21). Presumably, agreeing beforehand on a tune to use would be a wise idea.


The Bais Yosef at the end of OC:128 brings a Maharil who discusses it having stopped. He lived 1365-1427, so it's been stopped at least since then.

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