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<p style="text-indent: 2em">The While you could have thought that there's nothing to lose by answering [[amen]] if you didn't hear the bracha, the gemara says completely the opposite. Shockingly, the Gemara [[Brachot]] 47a states that one ensure not to answer [[Amen]] without having heard the bracha, termed by Chazal as an [[Amen]] Yetoma.Moreover, the gemara says not only is it forbidden, but if you do it, there is a curse that such a person should pass away, leaving his children as orphans! What could possibly have prompted Chazal to consider an [[Amen]] Yetoma as such a grievous crime? </p><p style="text-indent: 2em">Second ParagraphIn order to address our question, perhaps we can gain some insight from seeing how the Rishonim defined the parameters of [[Amen]] Yetoma. Rashi and Tosfot<ref>Rashi ([[Brachot]] 47a s.v. Yetoma) and Tosfot ([[Brachot]] 47a s.v. [[Amen]])</ref> ask that the Gemara [[Sukkah]] (51b) seems to be explicitly against the Gemara [[Brachot]]. The Gemara [[Sukkah]] tells how there was such a great multitude of people in the shul of Alexandria that many people couldn't even hear the Shaliach Tzibbur. To facilitate people [[answering Amen]], the gemara says, the Shaliach Tzibbur would wave a flag as he finished the bracha so everyone could see that they should answer [[Amen]]. Seemingly, this gemara takes it for granted that it is permitted to answer [[Amen]] even if one didn't hear the bracha. Rashi and Tosfot both answer that [[answering Amen]] is only an issue if you don't know which bracha was made or if you don't know if someone made a bracha at all. If you know that someone made a certain bracha, however, even if you didn't hear it, you can say [[Amen]]. That's why the people of the shul in Alexandria were able to answer [[Amen]] even though they didn't hear the bracha.</p><p style="text-indent: 2em">Third ParagraphBased on the understanding of Rashi, one could suggest that the reason saying [[Amen]] without knowing which bracha was made is so severe is because [[Amen]] is meant to be a statement of affirmation in the truth the bracha spoke about Hashem.<ref>Rav Soloveitchik in Reshimot [[Shiurim]] ([[Brachot]] 47a, p. 501 s.v. VeNirah) explains that Rashi and Tosfot hold that [[Amen]] is a function of expressing Emunah in which case only knowledge of the bracha is necessary. The Rabbenu Yonah, however, understood that [[Amen]] is a way of accepting the bracha upon oneself, in which case, having knowledge of the bracha without hearing its words isn't sufficient.</ref> If you don't know which bracha was made and you still say that you affirm its validity, your words become meaningless. Moreover, your intended praise of Hashem turns out to be hollow and without understanding. That's why, says the Maharal<ref>Netivot Olam (Netiv HaAvoda ch. 11; Sifrei Maharal Edition v. 1, p. 112)</ref>, unlike a bracha which is valid if said without understanding as it is intrinsically meaningful, however, an [[Amen]] is a statement of Emunah which is useless without understanding. </p>
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# Chazal viewed the recitation of [[Amen]] very highly and compared its recitation to a signature that attests to the validity of a document. 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. <ref>Gemara [[Brachot]] 53b, Chaye Adam (Klal 6:1), Gemara [[Shabbat]] 119b, Rashi [[Shabbat]] 119b s.v. BeChol</ref>

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