Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Mystery of the AWOL Amen

I didn't get it. Why did the chazzan/cantor of our local Conservative synagogue insist that one is not supposed to say "Amen" after the b'rachah/blessing that precedes the Sh'ma? Isn't a Jew always supposed to say "Amen" after hearing another Jew recite a b'rachah?

So I went on the trusty Internet and looked for an answer.

Much to my surprise, I saw that the ADDeRabbi addressed this very question all the way back in 2005, and even got a response from Jewish Worker.

Assuming that I understood correctly, the Hillel (standing on one foot) version, per the ADDeRabbi, seems to be that one should, indeed, always respond "Amen" to another Jew's b'rachah, but one shouldn't say "Amen" after reciting a b'rachah oneself (except after "boneh b'rachamav Yerushalayim/who rebuilds Jerusalem in His compassion)" in Birkat HaMazon/Grace After Meals). So if you don't finish the b'rachah before the baal(at) tefillah/prayer leader, a.k.a. shaliach(sh'lichah?) tzibbur/representative of the community, does, you're saying the b'rachah on your own and shouldn't respond "Amen," but if you do complete the b'rachah before the baal(at) tefillah does, then you should say "Amen." I hope I got that right.

Now, if only I could figure out why our chazzan doesn't leave time for us to say "Amen" after the b'rachah "oseh shalom u'vorei et ha-kol/Maker of peace and Creator of everything."

*AWOL, a U.S. Military acronym, stands for "Absent Without Official Leave."


Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

There is an even firmer halacha not to say Amen to the blessing Gaal Yisrael in Shacharit, which is said immediately before the Amidah. Some congregations even have the custom that the chazan not say the final words of the blessing aloud so (or say it in a lowered tone) so that people are reminded not to respond.

See What's the Truth About ... Ga'al Yisrael for more details.

Tue Aug 30, 03:58:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Okay, I saw. :) Thanks for the link.

Sigh. I don't understand why the question of whether or not there should be a one-word interruption (hefsek?) between one part of the service and another is worthy of so much ink. We Jews are so obsessive compulsive. :)

Tue Aug 30, 06:19:00 PM 2011  

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