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why are we not allowed to look at the Kohanim when the bless us with taleisim over them? [closed]

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As Kohanim anyway cover thier hands and face during the bencthing, why cant we look at them during the service?

EDIT: For more information on this topic see Dov's answer in full!


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    reb moshe feinstein speask about this at length - busy gabbaiJul 09  '12 at 14:53
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2 answers!

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The Gemara (Chagigah 16a) says that someone who gazes upon the kohanim in the Beis HaMikdash while they are standing on their platform and blessing the Jewish People; such a person’s vision will fade. Rashi (ד"ה ומברכין) seems to give the reason that the shechina rests on the fingertips of the kohanim.

כל המסתכל בג' דברים עיניו כהות... ובכהנים... בזמן שבהמ"ק קיים שהיו עומדין על דוכנן ומברכין את ישראל בשם המפורש

It is clear from the Gemara that the only real issue is when the Beis HaMikdash was around. However, Tosafos (ד"ה בכהנים) says that even nowadays there is an issue with staring as it can lead one to lose focus from the bracha.

Based on this, the Mishna Berura (128:89) writes that according to the letter of the law one is only not allowed to gaze intently, in a way that will cause one to lose focus from the bracha, but looking a little bit is okay. However, he ends off that the custom in his times was not to look at all, as a remembrance to the times of the Beis HaMikdash. This should explain the prevalent custom not to look in the direction of the kohanim at all. It is just a zeicher, it is not a halacha.


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    why isnt the talis on top of the Kohanim enough of a zeicher that we dont look. Why the double practice? - Old WineJul 09  '12 at 19:53
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1   @OldWine I don't think you can ask a kasha like that on a minhag like this. If we were being technical about it we would go with the pashute halacha. - Dov FJul 09  '12 at 20:01
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    @Old Wine are you trying to argue with the Mishnah Brurah? - busy gabbaiJul 09  '12 at 20:02
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    where does the minhag come from that they cover their hands and heads - DannyJul 10  '12 at 01:00
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The reason why we must not look is not because we are not allowed to see the Kohanim's hands, otherwise you would be right! It is because the Shechinah is resting on the Kohanim at that moment and we are not allowed to see It. That could well be on top of the Taleisim as well!


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    It could also make sense that the Shchina is underneath the talis as well KEVEYOCHOIL - disgruntledGoatJul 09  '12 at 14:41
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    Rashi (Chagigah 16a) says the shechina rests on their fingertips. - Dov FJul 09  '12 at 19:51
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    @Dov F is there space for the shechinah under the talis but on top of the fingers -) - Old WineJul 09  '12 at 19:54
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