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Choosing your kohen
If you have a kohen in the family, a grandfather, a brother-in-law or a cousin kohen, that makes choosing easier, otherwise here are a few good tips and what to look for;
Its good to start by knowing that the kohen is actually a שליח (emissary) of הקדוש ברוך הוא to accept the five coins from the father of the bechor. The redeemed bechor may be asked now and then throughout his lifetime; who was your kohen? the father of the bechor will be asked that same question; which kohen did your pidyon?
About the coins
The five silver coins given to the kohen is one the 24 מתנות כהונה, the kohanic gifts, these gifts remind the kohen recipient of his own קדושה state and of the service he is to serve הקדוש ברוך הוא and עם ישראל.
Some of these 24 gifts have numerous restrictions on how the kohen is to handle them. But, these five silver coins are considered חולין, mundane, where the kohen is allowed to use those coins however he wishes.
Choosing the kohen is up to the father of the bechor, his free choice is called טובת הנאה/
A qualified kohen
Knowing some of the things that our sages taught us about טובת הנאה and kehuna may benefit both the kohen who desires to help the yisroel perform this grand mitzvah and the אבי הבן who is looking for the right things in his kohen.
The talmud (מסכת בכורות דף ל עמוד ב, מסכת מנחות דך חי עמוד ב) tells us that a kohen who accepts all nuances of kehuna aside for one thing, is rejected. Too, it is instructed that the kohen who upholds torah in study and practice has precedence over other kohanim1)2.
What about the kohen’s lineage? kohanim today have the status of “kohanim muchzakim”. For detail on this chazakah see our article on today’s kohen muchzak.
What are the sought-after qualities of a kohen?
- It is preferred to choose a kohen who is knowledgeable in torah
- It is preferred to choose a kohen who keeps the torah in practice
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