Birkat Kohanim: Dreams

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by R. Ari Enkin

It is customary to recite the Ribono Shel Olam prayer during Birkat Kohanim for any disturbing dreams that one might have recently had. It is customary to recite the Ribono Shel Olam prayer during Birkat Kohanim for any disturbing dreams that one might have recently had. This is said to be able to transform such dreams, and any possible negative premonitions, into positive ones.1 As the prayer2 states:

Master of the World! I am yours and my dreams are yours. I dreamed a dream but I do not know what it is… If these dreams are good, strengthen them like the dreams of Yosef. However, if the dreams need healing, heal them like Moshe who healed the bitter waters of Marah and as Miriam was healed from her tzaraas and as Chizkiyahu was healed from his illness and as the waters on Yericho were healed by Elisha. Just as you changed the curse of Bilaam to a blessing, so too, change all my dreams for good.

According to some customs, the prayer for dreams is recited once during Birkat Kohanim – at the conclusion of the third blessing. According to others, it is recited at the end of each of the three blessings.3 Only the members of the congregation may recite this prayer. The chazzan and the kohanim are not permitted to recite it as for them to do so would be a forbidden interruption in the Birkat Kohanim.4

Birkat Kohanim is not only for praying about one’s dreams, but it is a general time of Divine favor when prayers of all kinds are appropriate and readily accepted.5 In congregations where the Birkat Kohanim is recited rather quickly, without the customary chanting between each word, the prayer for dreams is generally not recited.6 This is the case in much of Israel today where Birkat Kohanim is recited daily.

Even one who is unsure if one had any troubling dreams may still recite this prayer. Those who live in the Diaspora, where Birkat Kohanim is only recited on holidays, should recite this prayer,7 as it is unlikely that one did not have a disturbing dream since the last holiday.8 Some authorities rule that one should not recite this prayer on Shabbat or Yom Tov unless one had a bad dream the night before.9 Nevertheless, common custom is to recite it on Shabbat and Yom Tov, especially in the Diaspora where Birkat Kohanim is only performed several times a year.10 If, for whatever reason, Birkat Kohanim is not recited, then the prayer for dreams may be said during the “sim shalom” blessing of any repetition of Shemoneh Esrei.11


  1. Berachot 55b; OC 130:1. 

  2. There are some slight variations to the prayer depending on community. See for example Rivevot Ephraim 8:18. 

  3. Mishna Berura 103:5. See Piskei Teshuvot 130:4 for additional customs. 

  4. Mishna Berura 128:173; Rivevot Ephraim 6:57:4. 

  5. Piskei Teshuvot 130:1. 

  6. Piskei Teshuvot 128:93. 

  7. Rema 130:1. 

  8. Mishna Berura 130:1. 

  9. Mishna Berura 130:4. 

  10. Teshuvot V’hanhagot 2:104. 

  11. Rema 130:1. 

About Ari Enkin

Rabbi Ari N. Enkin, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, is a researcher and writer of contemporary halachic issues. He is the author of the “Dalet Amot of Halacha” series (8 volumes), Rabbinic Director of United with Israel and a RA"M at a number of yeshivot.

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