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When eating a meal in the company of a Kohen, it is a mitzvah to have him lead the recitation of Birkas HaMazon (Shulchan Aruch OC 201:2; it is obligatory according to others (see Shulchan Aruch Harav below)). However, he may relinquish that honor to others (Shulchan Aruch Harav 167:19).

In a case where there is more than one Kohen, if a Yisrael wishes to lead the Birkas HaMazon, must he obtain permission from all the assembled Kohanim, or is permission from one of them enough?

  • There is a Mitzva of honoring every Kohen from the Pasuk "Vikedashto". See the Shulchan Aruch Harav which you quoted above. That would seem to necessitate asking each Kohen individually. Although perhaps it would suffice by saying Bereshus before Birchas Hamazon. – Earl May 19 '17 at 2:50
  • @Earl The Mitzvah may be to honor them all, however only one of them can get this honor (a simple technicality - once they've bentched they can't bentch again), hence my question, if I get permission from one of them, does that absolve me from asking the others, since I can tell them that I got permission from the first one, who has the same rights as they do. – Ploni May 19 '17 at 2:54
  • @Earl "perhaps it would suffice by saying Bereshus before Birchas Hamazon" - definitely not. See the end of se'if 19 in Shulchan Aruch Harav. – Ploni May 19 '17 at 2:55
  • Why would permission from one possibly help? If I would need to ask the kohen, should it be any more lenient since there happens to be a kohen who doesn't mind in the room? Is your thought that in this case the mehila should be k'illu hitkabalti? – mevaqesh May 19 '17 at 5:10
  • @Ploni Just because the SHAH says something doesn't make it definitely true (for the non-Chabadnikim among us, at least). If he says "birshus..." and no one argues, they might be able to be assumed to have agreed. – Double AA May 19 '17 at 13:48
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As we see in Leading a zimun

It is considered an honour to lead the zimun; there is a system of priority as to how to select the leader. It is usual to ask a guest to lead; when there is no guest present, the wisest diner is prioritised; it is also appropriate to offer the honour to a Kohen, although the host is entitled to lead whenever he wishes. As such, when inviting the others to respond to his call to bentsch, the leader asks permission of anyone present whom he believes to take halachic precedence. This is achieved by saying birshut – with the permission of – then mentioning the host, Kohanim, etc., before proceeding.

When the person leading the zimun begins with ברשות he has asked permission of everyone seated there and part of the zimun. Additionally, it is the host of the meal who determines which of the guests is asks to lead the zimun. Once the host has done so, it is considered that he has asked the person who is most chashuv among that group.

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    What if when you say birshut a Kohen protests? Can you ignore him because you asked another for permission? It's not sufficient to ask everyone; they need to agree too – Double AA May 19 '17 at 13:26
  • @DoubleAA According to the link, it appears that the host can make the decision as to whom he considers chashuv and it is up to him to respond if someone (anyone) objects at the saying of birshus. The birshus is asking permission of everyone present (as said in the citation). – sabbahillel May 19 '17 at 13:45
  • Your two sentences don't follow from each other. First of all, there is no host in the question, so I don't know why you keep talking about one. Second, "The birshus is asking permission of everyone present" is not true. It's a statement not a question. It's a statement that I have permission. Perhaps you can argue that by stating you have permission and no one arguing, then they must agree. But it's not a request. – Double AA May 19 '17 at 13:47
  • Adding to @DoubleAA's comments, according to Shulchan Aruch Harav (and the Mishnah Berurah too) saying ברשות does not mean he has asked permission of everyone. – Ploni May 19 '17 at 16:38
  • To clarify @Ploni, saying Birshut, or saying anything in any language, does not mean he has asked permission unless he is asking permission, though asking permission is not halachically necessary anyway as long as you have the permission. In some contexts it's very appropriate to say "If you don't mind I'm going to XYZ" and then proceed to do so if they haven't stopped you. In those contexts, that is getting permission. – Double AA May 19 '17 at 16:55

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