Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Amen After Your Own Bracha

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

As a general rule, one never responds "Amen" to a blessing which one has personally recited. Indeed, doing so is deemed by our sages to be reprehensible.[1] It is explained that when one recites a blessing one draws down a Heavenly influence into the world which corresponds to the blessing recited. The "Amen" response serves serves to affirm and strengthen the blessing which was just recited along with its spiritual effects. By responding "Amen" to one's own blessing one is in effect asserting that one possesses the spiritual greatness to guarantee the spiritual effects of the blessing – an arrogant assumption.[2]

Click here to read moreHowever, there are a number of exceptions. For Ashkenazim, the only exception to this rule is following the blessing "Bonay B'rachamav Yerushalayim" in the Birkat Hamazon in which one is to respond "Amen" to one's blessing.[3] The reason for this is in order to differentiate between the sections of the Birkat Hamzaon until this point which were Biblical in nature and the remaining sections of it which are of Rabbinical vintage.[4]

Sefardim have the custom to respond "Amen" to their own blessing in a number of additional places as well, such as at the conclusion of Hallel, Yishtabach, and Shomer Amo Yisrael La'ad at Maariv.[5] The rationalization for responding "Amen" at these points reflects the idea that within Hallel and Pesukei D'zimra all interruptions are forbidden with the exception of liturgical responses. As such, the "Amen" highlights the uninterrupted nature of these prayers.[6] Similarly, these concluding blessings each represent the completion of a distinct section within the prayers.

There also exists a minimally practiced custom to respond "Amen" to one's own blessings following the reading of a Haftora[7] and an even once practiced custom of doing so throughout the Shemoneh Esrei.[8] In the event that one has concluded the blessings of Yishtabach, Hallel, and Shomer Amo Yisrael La'ad simultaneously with the Chazzan, one is to respond "Amen" to the Chazzan's recitation even though it may appear as if one is responding "Amen" to one's own blessing.[9] This is because these three blessings each represent the conclusion of an entire section which, according to some authorities, warrants one to respond "Amen" to one's own blessing anyways.


[1] Brachot 45b
[2] Aruch Hashulchan 215:4
[3] Rema 215:1
[4] Kaf Hachaim 215:6
[5] O.C. 215:1;Rema
[6] Kaf Hachaim 215:3
[7] Kaf Hachaim 215:1
[8] Kaf Hachaim 215:4
[9] Kaf Hachaim 215:7

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