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My late father told me to take off my watch and cufflinks before going up to perform the Priestly Blessing. I did not ask him why.

Two possible reasons suggest themselves:

  • To avoid diverting the attention of the congregation (either a holdover from when the hands were outside the tallis or even when the hands are under the tallis)

  • or to prevent the watch getting wet.

Questions:

  1. Has anyone heard of this practice?

  2. Is there a better reason than the ones I suggested above?

2

I haven't heard of the custom, though another Kohen I daven with always takes his watch off before Birkhat Kohanim, but since I never wear one(or cuff links) I have never heard of it. However, a better reason then either of the two you mentioned is that metal is something that is mekabel tumah. And one of the purposes of washing the hands is to purify them from tumah.

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