Monday, August 10, 2009

The Kohein’s Privilege

Although in the diaspora birkas kohanim is a rare event, in Israel it is recited each morning. A certain kohein enjoyed his morning coffee but also woke up a bit late for davening. His solution was to rush to shul and then get a coffee after kedushah. Unfortunately, this often caused him to miss birkas kohanim. Since he was often the only kohein in the early minyan he attended before work, this incensed the gabbai and other mispallelim.

They wished to teach this kohein a lesson that he would not soon forget. Of course, before they acted on their impulse, they first wanted to ensure that their plans were halachically acceptable. As the shul’s representative, the gabbai went to Rav Wosner, shlit”a, and asked if he could refuse this kohein the first aliyah.

The man argued, “After all, if he doesn’t do his job as a kohein, is the kahal responsible to give him the special mark of respect due to a kohein? I heard that the Chasan Sofer, zt”l, actually refused to give a kohein who neglected to do birkas kohanim the first aliyah. If this is true, then there is a good precedent for using this privilege to teach the man a lesson...”

Rav Wosner disagreed. “Although you should definitely tell this man off since he doesn’t do birkas kohanim regularly, you may not withhold rishon from him. He admits that he is a kohein and does not actually violate the positive commandment and has not violated his kehunah.

He concluded, “It is true that that the Chasan Sofer fined a kohein in this manner, but that was a special case. He did not mean to rule that one should halachically nullify a kohain’s right to honor in every case!”[1]

[1] שו"ת שבט הלוי, חלק ט', סימן כ"ז

6 comments:

yitz.. said...

shouldn't it be the Chatam Sofer? or Chasam Sofer? but not Chatan Sofer? Or was the Chatan Sofer a different Rav?

Micha Golshevsky said...

Yitz: Please forgive my tardiness in replying.
It is in fact the Chasan Sofer, (Orach Chaim 53) brought in Shevet Halevi, volume IX, 27.)
But you are correct that since I generally use Ashkenazic pronunciation, I should have written Chasan instead of Chatan.
Thank you for the comment!

Micha Golshevsky said...

Just for some perspective as to who the Chasan Sofer was: The author Rav Shmuel Ehrenfeld, zt"l, was the son of Rav Dovid Tzvi the son-in-law of the famous Chasam Sofer.
Of course chasan means son-in-law. Clearly "Chasan Sofer" alludes to his relationship with the famous Chasam Sofer.

yitz.. said...

thanks for enlightening me :)

Schulz said...

Actually, many Rabbis and Poskim say that today the Kohanim and Leviem have become lost and mixed due to our long exile. see www.kohen.co.uk

josh said...

actually, many poskim today say that someone who says he is a Kohein is in fact not an authentic Kohein.See www.kohein.com