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In Israel in as shul that has two shacharis minyanim one after the other, a kohen comes in for the second minyan just as the first minyan is coming to the priestly blessing. Should this kohen perform the priestly blessing for the first minyan?

  • Two minyanim are separated, the kohen has no concerns with the first minyan – kouty Oct 20 '17 at 12:14
  • Free Mitzva opportunity! What's the question? – Double AA Oct 20 '17 at 14:13
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    @DoubleAA The question title asks "any need". To me it seems OP is asking if he is required to do so. – DanF Oct 20 '17 at 15:06
  • More general question. Can a Cohen decline to duchan at any time, if there are others? – DanF Oct 20 '17 at 18:13
  • @DanF Yes, I want to know if I have any obligation at all. I arrived early for the 2nd minyan in order to have time to put on tallis and tefillin and prepare for davenning. – Avrohom Yitzchok Oct 22 '17 at 9:42
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+50

It's strongly implied (S"A O"C 128:2) that if a Kohen is in the room when the Chazzan calls "Kohanim" (or some other form of the Kohen being called up to give the blessing), he has an obligation to say the blessing and violates a Mitzvah if he does not.

The Chayei Adam writes (32:28) that a Kohen who hasn't prayed yet and is by a Minyan that is up to Birkas Kohanim should do the blessing then and pray afterwards. While it doesn't explicitly describe what the law would be if the Kohen plans on being at a later Minyan, taking these two sources together, I would suggest that if a Kohen is at an earlier Minyan and is in a scenario where he gets 'called up' to do Birkas Kohanim, he would have an obligation to do so.

There is also a Beiur Halacha on S"A O"C 128:4 that implies that one should not put himself in a scenario where he is exempting himself from doing the Mitzvah of Birkas Kohanim, although admittedly that might not apply in this scenario where the Kohen is intending to do the Mitzvah later.

It would seem based on this that the ideal situation would be for a Kohen to not put himself in a situation where he gets an obligation to say Birkas Kohanim. There are a handful of scenarios that obligates a Kohen to do Birkas Kohanim, recounted at the end of O"C 128:4. Therefore it would seem that perhaps waiting outside the sanctuary or in a side room until after Chazaras Hashatz would be preferred.

Note that the other way around (where the Kohen has already done Birkas Kohanim and happens to be in another Minyan later), the Kohen does not have to do Birkas Kohanim again (S"A O"C 128:3).

  • +1 for good concise answer. You may want to view O.C. 18:4 which "adds" that if, for some reason, a Cohen cannot go up to duchen, e.g., he is sick or weak, he should leave the shul prior to Retze. Cohanim that are "disqualified" (see the criteria earlier in the same chapter. An example is one who hates someone in the cong.) do not need to exit the shul, though. – DanF Oct 27 '17 at 18:52
  • @DanF I'll assume the source was a typo and you meant 128:4. You're right, I was trying to strike a balance between brevity and completeness, so I alluded to that in the parenthesis in the first line, referring to any scenario where a Kohen has an obligation to go up and give the blessing. I'll edit a paragraph near the end clarifying that ideally one should avoid a situation where they get called up to do Birkas Kohanim. – Salmononius2 Oct 29 '17 at 19:05

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