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The Gates of Gan Eden

“Whoever says amen with all of his strength merits to have the gates of Gan Eden opened up for him” (Shabbos 119b). “The moment a child says amen he has earned a place in the World to Come” (Rema 124,7 based on Sanhedrin 110b). What deep significance gives amen such a powerful influence in the World to Come?

“Any blessing that does not contain Shem u’Malchus (G-d’s Name and Kingship) is not a bracha” (Brachos 12a). A bracha must mention Hashem, the Divine Name which represents His Mercy, and Elokeinu, the Name which represents Divine Justice and Majesty. The combination of these two Names encapsulates the way G-d relates to us in this world.

Whenever considering the Divine attribute of strict justice, we are at risk of forgetting that everything G-d does is absolutely good. In fact, even that which appears unpleasant to us is completely good, although we might not understand it at the moment. How can we ensure that we will remain steadfast in this essential principle of faith even while mentioning G-d’s attribute of strict justice?

The halacha provides us with the answer to this question. Amen is an acronym for El Melech Ne’eman, G-d is a Faithful King. When we answer amen to a blessing we affirm that no matter how bleak things look, we can always rely on Hashem that all is for the best.

While a Jew should strive to see the good in every situation in this world, a complete understanding of this principle can only be attained in the World to Come. Our Sages say, “In this world we respond to bad news with a negative reaction. In the World to Come, we will say the bracha ‘all that Hashem does is good’ even on seemingly bad tidings” (Pesachim 50a).

While still in this world we can come closest to this perception by answering amen to all brachos, and affirming that Hashem is the El Melech Ne’eman in all situations.

May every amen help us to attain the clarity of the next world while we are still here in this one.

Text Copyright © 2012 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and



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