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Obligation or Optional

Last week's stories imply that answering amen to a bracha is compulsory, and that the consequences are serious if one does not do so. This seems contrary to how many Jews behave in practice. Must one, in fact, answer amen to every bracha that he hears?

“When I mention the Name of Hashem, I will ascribe greatness to Elokeinu,” (Devarim 32,3). Based on this verse, our Sages taught that every time a person hears a blessing, he is obligated to “participate” by responding amen (Yuma 37).

The above halacha applies only when a person is not involved with a different mitzva that requires his full intention. For example, if a person is studying Torah or in the middle of reciting other prayers, he is not obligated to stop to respond amen (Eshel Avraham [M'Butchach] 215).

Text Copyright © 2011 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and



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