The shulchan aruch codifies that a Kohen who kills someone may not bless the people. If, in the times when the Sanhedrin administered capital punishment, a Kohen saw a situation that warranted the death punishment by stoning, and the person was convicted, and the kohen as a witness participated in the stoning, would he be disqualified from blessing the people?

  • 1
    According to those who permit Kohen-soldiers who killed in battle to bless the people, this would certainly be fine since it's also a Mitzva-killing. Are you only asking about the other opinion?
    – Double AA
    Jul 21, 2017 at 18:13
  • @DoubleAA i'm not 100% sure. I have seen an explanation (cite in the link in my question) that the reason those kohanim-soldiers are allowed to bless is because killing in war is considered self defense. that reasoning would not apply to the case of a witness. Jul 21, 2017 at 20:02
  • Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/82578
    – msh210
    Jul 22, 2017 at 21:14

3 Answers 3


R. Ephraim Bilitzer (Yad Ephraim no. 5), in addressing the question how could Phineas perform the priestly service after killing Zimri & Kosbi, admits as obvious that only a kohen who was not performing a commandment by killing another is subject to disqualification - not a kohen who was performing a commandment, as Phineas was (cf. Rema CM 425:4). In the case of capital punishment too, once it is determined by the sanhedrin that the accused is guilty his execution is a biblical commandment (see Rambam, Laws of Sanhedrin 14:2-3). In solidifying his view, R. Bilitzer cites from Chizkuni (Num. 25:12) that Phineas was worried he may lose his priestly status if he were to kill Zimri and Kosbi as the law dictates, and so God had to assure him that since the killing is for the sake of heaven he can still maintain his priestly status.

  • This is written with regards to the temple service NOT PRIESTLY BLESSINGS see tosfos yevamos 7a Sheneemar this is an answer to an irrelevant question.
    – user15464
    Sep 20, 2017 at 14:15
  • @user15464 Nope. Did you look at the first linked source?
    – Oliver
    Sep 20, 2017 at 14:23
  • Yes i did, Kanaim pogim Bo required completely leshem shamayim which Pinchos did and Hashem said therefore It is considered as if he didn't kill as said in the source. The same cannot be said about people who kill in bais din where there is no proof that they did it (unless there is Divine revelation otherwise) Leshem shamaim so this is actually a proof that regular cohanim cannot Bless the peole when they kill through beis din
    – user15464
    Sep 20, 2017 at 14:45
  • @user15464 Wow, aside for the seeming splitting hairs of "לשם שמים" you are clearly reading his words differently than I (specifically sec. 4). He explicitly states it would be permitted for a kohen who, through his testimony, capital punishment was administered "וכי נימא שמפני זה פסול לישא כפיו והלא קיים זה מצוה של ובערת הרע מקרבך״.
    – Oliver
    Sep 20, 2017 at 15:00
  • Your job is to logically prove your answer as The Yad ephraim quotes those with alternative answers to why Pinchos was allowed to serve as a kohein which seem to think its impossible to kill and serve in the bais hamikdash. blind faith in what he says which contradicts Tosfos in yevamos and many others won't get you brownie points on this web site
    – user15464
    Sep 20, 2017 at 15:21

Rav Ovadia Yosef in Yechaveh Daat (2:14) was asked about whether a Kohen who fought in the IDF and during the battle killed a terrorist is permitted to perform the blessings.

Rav Ovadia after discussing the issue at length concludes that it is permitted. For the killing of this terrorist was a mitzvah.

With this in mind, it would be permitted for the kohen to continue to bless the people, even after he took part in the stoning, as carrying out the punishment of stoning is a mitzvah.

  • you're very welcome
    – Oliver
    Sep 18, 2017 at 17:11
  • The question is with regards to killing a convicted jew in sanhedrin, A terrorist is not jewish so there is no problem with an accusant becoming a defendant. see tosfos yevamos 7a "sheneemar"
    – user15464
    Sep 20, 2017 at 14:11
  • @user15464 huh? You presume that being a קטיגור is only regarding killing a Jew? It's that someone who killed cannot bless. Nothing more. Killing a goy is still שפיכת דם Sep 20, 2017 at 14:14
  • Nearly Every single leader of the jews in the bible (Moshe, Yehoshua, Pinchos,Ehud, Barak, many many others) had to kill goyim that were threatening the existance of the jews so no one is not considered a kateigor for defending our nation.
    – user15464
    Sep 23, 2017 at 21:34

The Gemoro Brochos 32b says no a Cohen who killed shouldn't do bircas cohanim

ברכות דף לב: כהן שהרג נפש לא ישא את כפיו שנאמר ידיכם דמים

Tosfos in Yevamos 7a "sheneemar"says either because of a chumra or because the hands which killed as accusants cannot become defendants:

לא ישא את כפיו חומרא בעלמא הוא ועוד דוקא לא ישא את כפיו לפי שהרגו בידו ואין קטיגור נעשה סניגור וכדכתיב בההוא קרא ובפרישכם כפיכם: -
He should only refrain from blessing by raising his hands because he killed with the very same hands and an accusant cannot become a defendant.

Note that Tosfos says there that with regards to Avoda i.e serving in the Beis Hamikdosh there is no such prohibition hence thats why Pinchos was able to become Cohen Gadol after killing Zimri. But it could be he never performed Bircat Cohanim ever again and let the other Cohanim bless the people. See Shevet Halevi (thanks to Jay) who quotes Tosfos as Halacha

  • just because he is an accuser of one person doesn't mean he is an accuser of everyone does it? Aug 17, 2017 at 21:42
  • the cohanim are blessing people who are alive that they didn't kill so why is there such a halacha? Kol yisrel areivim Zeh lozeh - we are all guarantors for one another1
    – user15464
    Aug 17, 2017 at 22:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .