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Prayer and Blessings

The Blessing of the Kohain (Priest)

Question: It is known that the kohanim (Priests) in the temple used to bless the people by holding their hands in a specific position.
1. Could you please explain more on the meaning of it?
2. Why was it not permitted to look at them while they were doing it?
3. Could this heal people? If yes can it be used nowadays to heal?
4. Could a woman be kohain?

Answer: The reason for the spreading of the fingers by the Kohanim during the blessing is that during exile G-d looks at us from behind a wall, so to speak. There are five windows in this wall through which He connects to us and bestows us with blessing. In order to symbolize those five openings, the Kohanim spread their five fingers.

We do not look directly at them in order not to become distracted during the blessing.
A woman whose father is a Kohain has many of the rights of a Kohain. However, these rights do not extend to performing the service in the Temple or saying the Birchat Kohanim.

I am unaware of this blessing being specifically used to heal people. However, being blessed by a Kohain, and bringing the blessing of G-d upon a person, will surely bring him benefits. So there would be no doubt that it could be helpful for one who is ill.

All the best, Rabbi Azriel Schreiber

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