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Revision as of 21:43, 4 November 2013 by Darrensultan
- Chazal viewed the recitation of Amen very highly. In fact, Chazal tell us that responding Amen is of greater significance than reciting the Beracha. The failure to recite Amen is considered a gross transgression, while responding Amen with great concentration opens the gates of Gan Eden. 
- The letters of Amen are the root letters of the word Emunah, belief or trust. By responding Amen one declares: "I believe in the bracha that I have just heard and I affirm its truth." Additionally, when responding Amen one should have in mind the beginning of the Bracha, "Baruch Atta Hashem", that Hashem's name is Blessed. 
- The proper intention of the word Amen changes with the Bracha. When answering Amen to Birchot HaMitzvah or Birchot HaNehenin, one's intention should be to affirm the truth of the Bracha and his belief in it. When answering to Birchot HaShevach, one should have in mind that he is affirming the truth of that praise. When responding Amen to Tefillot one's Amen should be a request of Hashem to fulfill that prayer. 
When to Answer Amen
- If a person hears a Bracha made properly by a Jew there’s a obligation to answer Amen. (The obligation is based on the פסוק of כי שם יהוה אקרא הבו גדל לאלהינו). 
- One should answer Amen to any blessing one hears whether he wishes to fulfill an obligation or not. It’s proper to answer Amen after a Tefillah or Bracha even if it doesn’t have the name of Hashem (Shem UMalchut) for example: the Mi SheBerach (מי שברך), Harachaman (הרחמן) in benching, and some add “Makom Yenachem Etchem…”. 
- One may answer amen to a Yehi Ratzon a Jew says even if the Yehi Ratzon didn't have Hashem's name in it.
- When reciting Kiddush on Friday night, we say the words "ויהי ערב ויהי בקר" quietly before saying "יום הששי". In truth, ויהי ערב is actually the second part of the Passuk which precedes יום הששי. We don’t say those words out loud because the first letters of יום הששי ויכלו השמים form the name of Hashem.
- Amen must be said within Toch Kedi Dibbur (2-3 seconds) of the Bracha or if one’s in a congregation one can say Amen until the majority of the congregation has finished saying Amen. 
- When hearing a Bracha over a microphone, if one’s in the same room one may answer Amen, if not don’t answer. 
- Some say that one should answer Amen to a bracha one heard over the phone
How to Properly Answer Amen
- One shouldn't answer Amen louder than the Bracha itself unless one is doing so in order to motivate others to answer Amen.
- If one hears two Berachot, one should answer Amen VeAmen rather than Amen Amen.
- If one is obligated in a certain Bracha and one didn’t hear the Bracha it’s forbidden to answer Amen, which is called Amen Yetoma. If one is not obligated in the mitzvah as long as one knows which Bracha is being made it’s permissible to answer Amen. 
- Preferably one should hear the Bracha of the Shaliach Tzibbur and answer amen, however, after the fact, even if one didn’t hear the bracha but as long as one knows which Bracha was made, one may answer amen. 
Answering to Kaddish
- One who answers amen yehei shemei rabba with all his strength annuls any bad decrees. 
Answering Baruch Hu UBaruch Shemo
- When hearing the words Baruch Atta Hashem, one should answer "Baruch Hu UBaruch Shemo". The Chazzan should pause to give the congregation a chance to respond "Baruch Hu UBaruch Shemo".
- One should not say "Baruch Hu UBaruch Shemo" when one intends to fulfill an obligation by listening to someone else's bracha or when speaking is prohibited such as by Pesukei DeZimrah and Birchot Kriyat Shema. 
Common Mistakes When Answering Amen
- There are four common mistakes when responding אמן.
- One must make sure pronounce the kamatz under the Aleph of Amen, otherwise it is considered an Amen Chatufa. Additionally, Amen Chatufa includes when someone responds Amen before the bracha has been completed. 
- One should ensure to pronounce the nun of Amen, otherwise it is considered an Amen Katufa. 
- One should be sure to answer Amen slowly. One's Amen should take as long as it would normally take to say El Melech Neeman, but not overly protracted.
- If one didn't hear a bracha, one shouldn't answer Amen, otherwise it would be considered an Amen Yetoma. If one didn't hear the bracha, but knows what bracha/Kaddish is being said, one may in fact answer Amen. However, if one is attempting to fulfill an obligation with someone else's bracha, but did not actually hear the whole bracha, one can answer Amen even though he will not fulfill his obligation.
- According to Ashkenazim, one should not respond Amen to one's own bracha. If, after making a bracha on food, one answered Amen to one's own bracha, it is considered a Hefsek. Also, if someone else made the same bracha at the same time that he did, he should not respond Amen because it sounds like he is responding Amen to his own bracha. See the Answering_Amen_to_Your_Own_Bracha page.
- Gemara Brachot 53b, Chaye Adam (Klal 6:1), Gemara Shabbat 119b, Rashi Shabbat 119b s.v. BeChol
- Shulchan Aruch 124:6, Mishna Brurah 124:24
- Shulchan Aruch 124:6, Mishna Brurah 124:10,25, Vezot HaBracha pg 188
- S”A 215:2, Mishna Brurah 215:8, Rambam Hilchot Berachot 1:13, Kaf Hachayim 124:30
- Shulchan Aruch 124:6, 189:5, 215:9; Mishna Brurah 215:9; Vezot HaBracha pg 188 in name of Rav Shlomo Zalman
- Nitei Gavriel Rosh Hashana 29:23
- Rama 271:10, Levush 271:10, Aruch HaShulchan 271:25, Chatom Sofer OC 10
- Rama 124:8 says that the Amen must be said immediately after the Bracha and Mishna Brurah 124:34 explain it means Toch Kedi Dibbur. Vezot HaBracha (pg 189) agrees.
- Vezot HaBracha (pg 189) in name of Rav Shlomo Zalman
- Rav Moshe Feinstein (Igrot Moshe 4:91:4)
- Gemara Brachot 45a, Shulchan Aruch 124:12, Mishna Brurah 124:47
- Mishna Brurah 124:25
- S”A 124:8 holds that only is a person was obligated in a Bracha and didn’t hear it, even if one knows which Bracha is being made, one can’t answer Amen. However, if one wasn’t obligated in the Bracha, one wasn’t obligated in a Bracha, one may answer as long as one hears others saying Amen even if one doesn’t know which Bracha was made. Yet, Rama argues that even by Brachot that one’s not obligated in one shouldn’t answer Amen if one doesn’t know which Bracha was made. However, if one knows which Bracha is being made one may answer amen if one’s not obligated in the Bracha.
- Concerning Chazarat HaShas the Mishna Brurah 124:33 writes that it’s preferable to hear the Bracha from the shaliach tzibbur since some say that since it’s a rabbinic institution it’s like it’s a Bracha one’s obligated in, however, after the fact, one can answer as long as one knows which Bracha was made (because one knows which Bracha the tzibbur was up on even though one didn’t hear the bracha). Vezot HaBracha pg 189 agrees. Yalkut Yosef (Tefillah vol 2 pg 163, siman 124 note 8) rules that one should be strict like the Rama, except that by Chazarat HaShas if one already prayed one may answer as long as one knows which Bracha is made.
- Gemara Shabbat 119b
- S"A 124:5, Mishna Brurah 124:21, 22, Maharam Shik 51, Igrot Moshe 2:94
- S"A 124:8, Biur Halacha 124:8 s.v. Kriyat
- S"A 124:8, Biur Halacha 124:8 s.v. Kriyat
- S"A 124:8, Mishna Brurah 124:36, Brachot 47a
- Mishna Brurah 124:31 and 124:34, S"A 124:8
- S"A 215:1, Mishna Brurah 215:1 and 51:3