Answering Amen to a blessing that you did not hear

Answering Amen to a blessing that one did not hear or does not know its identity:[1]

It is forbidden to answer an Amen Yesoma. An Amen Yesoma is considered an Amen to a blessing that one did not hear. This however is limited to only certain cases and it is disputed in Poskim as to which cases this Amen Yesoma applies. There are two opinions in this regard: The 1st opinion differentiates between a blessing one is being Yotzei and one that he is not being Yotzei, however he makes no differentiation between one who knows the identity of the blessing and one who does not.[2] The 2nd opinion differentiates between knowing and not knowing the Bracha and does not differentiate between whether one is being Yotzei the Bracha or not.[3]

 

A. One is fulfilling his obligation with this blessing:[4]

Some Poskim[5] rule that one may not answer Amen after any blessing that he is obligated to hear, meaning that he plans to fulfill his obligation through answering Amen after hearing it, if he did not hear the [entire[6]] blessing from the person saying it. This applies even if he knows what blessing is being said, nevertheless he is not allowed to answer Amen.[7] Other Poskim[8] however rule that one may answer Amen after any blessing whose identity is known, even if he did not hear the blessing from the person saying it, and even if he plans to fulfill his obligation with this blessing, and he fulfills his obligation through answering this Amen. [If however he is not aware of which blessing was said, then according to all he may not answer Amen.] Practically, one is to be stringent like the first opinion.[9] Thus, if he plans to fulfill his obligation with this blessing he must hear the actual words of the blessing from the person saying it. If he did not hear the actual words of the blessing, he is not to answer Amen, even if he is aware of which blessing was recited.

 

B. One is not fulfilling his obligation with the blessing:[10]

Did not hear and does not know the identity: Some Poskim[11] rule that one may answer Amen after any blessing that he is not obligated to hear, meaning that he does not plan to fulfill his obligation with it, even if he did not hear the blessing from the person saying it, and even if he does not know what blessing was said, nevertheless he is allowed to answer Amen. Other Poskim[12] however rule that one may not answer Amen after any blessing that he did not hear and whose identity is not known, even if he does not plan to fulfill his obligation with this blessing.[13] Practically, one is to be stringent like the latter opinion.[14] Thus, he is not to answer Amen for a blessing if he is not aware of which blessing was recited even if he does not plan to fulfill his obligation with this blessing.

Did not hear but knows the identity:[15] If one is aware of the blessing, and is not intending to be Yotzei with it, then according to all he may answer Amen even if he did not hear any words of the blessing from the person saying it. Furthermore, one is even obligated to answer Amen to the blessing and it is not voluntary to do so.[16]

 

C. Kaddish, Kedusha and Barchu:[17]

Answering to Kaddish, Kedusha and Barchu follows the same laws as a blessing that one is not fulfilling his obligation with and thus one can answer towards it even if he did not hear at all any part of the Kaddish/Kedusha/Barchu from the Chazan.[18] [Nevertheless, in Kaddish, he must have in mind to answer Amen to the statement said by the Chazan as otherwise it is an Amen Yesoma since he did not hear it.[19] Some Poskim[20] rule it suffices to have in mind to answer Amen on the general Kaddish even if he does not know the specific area of Kaddish that the Chazan is holding.]

 

D. Chazaras Hashatz:[21]

Some Poskim[22] rule that even if one is not obligated to recite a certain blessing, nevertheless, if the blessing was instituted to be recited in order to fulfill the obligation of the public, then he may not answer Amen if he did not hear the blessing, even if he knows its identity [just as is the law regarding a blessing that one is fulfilling his obligation with, as explained in A]. Accordingly, one may not answer Amen to the blessing from the Chazan Chazaras if he did not hear the blessing.[23] Practically, one is to initially suspect for their opinion and thus be careful to hear the blessings of Chazaras Hashatz from the Chazan [and at the very least the concluding blesisng[24]].[25] However, if one was unable to hear the blessing, such as if he was in middle of Shemoneh Esrei and when he completed his prayer the Chazan completed a certain blessing, he may answer Amen after it, so long as he knows the identity of the blessing.[26]

 

E. Birchas Hatorah:[27]

One may answer Amen after Birchas Hatorah of an Aliyah even if one did not hear the blessing.[28]

 

 

Summary:

If one is fulfilling his obligation with the blessing: When one intends to fulfill his obligation with a certain blessing he is required to hear the [entire] blessing from the person, in order to be allowed to answer amen and fulfill his obligation. If he did not hear the [entire] blessing, then even if he knows which blessing is being recited, he may not answer Amen [and does not fulfill his obligation, and thus must repeat the blessing].

If one is not fulfilling his obligation with blessing: When one does not intend to full his obligation with a certain blessing then he is obligated to answer Amen, even if he did not hear the entire blessing, or did not hear the blessing at all, so long as he knows the blessing being made. If he does not know of the blessing being made then he is not to answer Amen.

By Chazaras Hashatz: By Chazaras Hashatz one is to make sure to hear entire blessing of the Chazan in order so he be able to answer Amen according to all opinions. In the event that he did not hear the entire blessing he may still answer Amen.

By Kedusha/Kaddish/Barchu: One may answer Kaddish, Kedusha and Brachu even if he did not hear the words being said.

Birchas Hatorah: One may answer Amen for Birchas Hatorah even if he did not hear the words being said.

 

Q&A on blessings of obligation

How much of the blessing must one hear in order to be allowed to answer Amen if he intends to fulfil his obligation with the blessing?

One must hear every part of the blessing that invalidates it if it were not to be said.[29] One does not fulfill his obligation with the blessing unless he hears from beginning to end.[30]

 

What is the law if he transgressed and answered Amen towards a blessing that he is intending to fulfill his obligation with despite not having heard the blessing? Does he fulfill his obligation?[31]

No, he does not fulfill his obligation.[32]

 

If one did not hear the entire blessing, may he answer Amen if it is a blessing that he is hearing in order to be Yotzei Meiah Brachos, such as the blessings of Maftir?[33]

Yes. One may thus answer Amen so long as he knows which blessing was said, even though he did not hear the blessing.[34] Nevertheless, one does not fulfill his obligation of Meiah Brachos with such a blessing unless he heard the blessing from the person saying it.

Q&A on hearing an artificial voice

May one answer Amen, Kaddish or Kedusha through a microphone?

Kaddish and Kedusha: One may answer Amen to Kaddish and answer Kedusha even if he does not hear the natural voice of the Chazan and only hears it through a microphone system.[35] Nevertheless, there must be at least a Minyan of people who can hear the natural voice of the Chazan for the Minyan to be able to be valid.[36]

Chazaras Hashatz:[37] One is to initially try to hear the actual voice of the Chazan during Chazaras Hashatz. If this is not possible, one may answer Amen even to these blessings, so long as one knows which blessing he is answering Amen towards.

Amen to a blessing:[38] One may [and is obligated[39] to] answer Amen to any blessing, even if it is heard through a microphone, so long as he is aware of what blessing he is answering for. However, if one needs to be Yotzei this blessing then he may not answer Amen if he hears it through the microphone.[40] [For example, if one needs to be Yotzei Birchas Hatorah, or Havdala, it does not help for him to hear the blessing from a microphone and rather he must hear it directly from the person saying it.]

 

May one answer Amen, Kaddish, Kedusha through a Telephone, radio, live video/audio internet hookup?[41]

Some Poskim[42] rule one is not to answer Amen or Kedusha in such circumstances.[43] Other Poskim[44] rule one is to answer Amen and for Kaddish/Kedusha.[45] Practically, one may be lenient in this matter.[46]

Answering Amen to a recording:[47] One may not answer Amen to a blessing said in a recording.[48]

 

May one be Yotzei Havdala, Megillah and the like via Telephone; radio; speakers; microphone etc?[49]

No.[50] One may not answer Amen to such blessings.[51]

 

 


 



[1] Admur 124/11; 215/2 [All sources in Admur ibid refer to 124/11 unless stated otherwise]

[2] When being Yotzei it is irrelevant whether or not he knows the Bracha, as he is not Yotzei unless he heard it. When not being Yotzei it is irrelevant whether or not knows the Bracha, as he may always answer Amen.

[3] Thus if knows the Bracha then may always answer, even to be Yotzei and when he does not know the Bracha he may not answer even if he is not being Yotzei.

[4] Admur 124/11

[5] 1st opinion in Admur 124/1; Michaber 124/8; Rabbeinu Yonah Brachos 35a; Rosh Brachos 7/17

[6] See Admur 213/4 “From beginning until the end”; See also Admur 183/10; 193/1; Michaber 213/3; Brachos 53b

[7] The reason: As since he did not hear the actual words of the blessing from the person saying it, therefore if he answers Amen it is considered an Amen Yesoma. [Admur ibid]

[8] 2nd opinion in Admur ibid; Rashi Brachos 47a; Tosafus Brachos ibid

[9] Admur ibid; M”A 124/13; Bach 124

[10] Admur 124/11

[11] 1st opinion in Admur 124/1; Michaber 124/8; Rabbeinu Yonah Brachos 35a; Rosh Brachos 7/17

[12] 2nd opinion in Admur ibid; Rama 124/8; Rashi Brachos 47a; Tosafus Brachos ibid

[13] The reason: As since he did not hear the actual words of the blessing from the person saying it, therefore if he answers Amen it is considered an Amen Yesoma. [Admur ibid]

[14] Admur ibid; M”A 124/13; Bach 124; Chida in Kesher Gudal 9/5; Od Yosef Chaiy Vayechi 19; Kaf Hachaim 124/47

[15] Admur 124/11; 215/2; See Biur Halacha 215 “Chayav”; Piskeiy Teshuvos 215/3

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it is best not to answer Amen to a blessing that one did not ehar at all, even if he knows its identity. [Kaf Hachaim ibid]

[16] Admur 215/2

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule one is not obligated to answer Amen for a blessing that one did not hear at all and it is merely voluntary to do so. [Kaf Hachaim 124/47; Biur Halacha 215 “Chayav” based on Taz and Mamar Mordechai, brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos 215/3] Based on this some Poskim rule it is best not to answer Amen to such a blessing. [Kaf Hachaim ibid] If however one heard some of the words of the blessing then he must answer Amen. [Kaf Hachaim ibid; Michaber 215/2]

[17] Admur ibid; 2nd opinion in Admur 57/2 regarding Barchu; Rama 124/11

Other opinions in Admur regarding Barchu: Admur 57/2 states as follows: Some Poskim rule that if the Chazan said Barchu quietly then all the people who did not hear the Barchu from him may not answer to his Barchu. Rather, if they heard the congregation that is around the Chazan answering after the Chazan “Baruch Hashem” they are to answer Amen after them. [1st opinion in Admur ibid; M”A 57/1; Brachos 49b] However, there is an opinion that says that if there are nine people who heard the Barchu from the Chazan and are answering Amen afterwards then the entire congregation may answer with them being that there are ten people saying a Davar Shebekidusha. [2nd opinion in Admur; Rama 124/11; Orchos Chaim brought in Beis Yosef 124; Elya Zuta 139/3] Practically, the main ruling follows the latter opinion, as ruled in 124/11 and in the M”A there. [Admur ibid] The reason for this is because so rules Rav Haiy Gaon, and so is proven from the Gemara in Sukkah 51b regarding the Alexandrian Shul, and this Gemara has no other explanation. Now, the M”A himself brings this Gemara in 124/18 and thus contradicts his ruling here, Vetzaruch Iyun Gadol. [ Kuntrus Achron 57/1]

[18] The reason: Although we stated above that some Poskim rule that any blessing that one is obligated in , he does not fulfill his obligation with answering Amen unless he hears the words of the blessing. Nevertheless in this case even they agree that he may answer without hearing the words. The reason for this is because he is not considered obligated in answering for the Kaddish and Kedusha regarding this matter, as only those matters that one is obligated to recite even privately are included in the above stringency, and Kaddish/Kedusha/Barchu one is only obligated to say with a Minyan. [Admur ibid; M”A 124/18]  This is proven from the shul of Alexandria who would answer Amen to Kadddish and Kedusha based on the waving of a flag. [M”A ibid; See Sukkah 51b]

[19] Admur 56/4; M”A 56/6; M”B 56/10

[20] Shevet Halevi 8/22; See Ashel Avraham Butchach 124; Piskeiy Teshuvos 124 footnote 138

[21] Admur 124/11

[22] 3rd opinion in Admur ibid; Aruch Amen in name of Rav Kohen Tzedek; Tosafos Sukkah 52a

[23] The reason: As since the Sages instituted for the Chazan to repeat the prayer in order to fulfill the obligation of those who do not know how to prayer, and therefore the congregation is obligated to be silent and hear the blessings from the Chazan and answer Amen afterwards, therefore these blessings are considered an obligation upon them to hear from the Chazan, even though he already Davened Shemoneh Esrei. [Admur ibid]

[24] M”B 124/33

[25] Admur ibid; Bach 124; M”B 124/33; Levush; M”B 124/33; Chida in Kesher Gudal 9/5; Od Yosef Chaiy Vayechi 19; Kaf Hachaim 124/47

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule there is no need to be stringent in this matter. [Ashel Avraham Bucthach 124; Shulchan Hatahor 124/15

[26] Admur ibid; Michaber and Rama 124/11; Mahari in Terumos Hadeshen 2/109

[27] Admur 124/11; Yerushalmi Sukkah 5/1

[28] The reason: As the blessing was not instituted for the sake of the congregation but rather due to that it is proper for one who reads from the Torah to recite a blessing. Now, although it is an obligation upon the congregation to hear the blessing being said [as explained in 139/6] nevertheless the main part of the blessing is on his own behalf and not on behalf of the congregation, as is the case with Chazaras Hashatz. [Admur ibid]

[29] Piskeiy Teshuvos 124/14

[30] Admur 213/4 “From beginning until the end”; See also Admur 183/10; 193/1; Michaber 213/3; Brachos 53b

[31] Admur 213/4 “From beginning until the end”; See also Admur 183/10; 193/1; Michaber 213/3; Rambam Brachos 1/11; Teshuvas Harambam Pear Hador 101; Brachos 53b; Yerushalmi Brachos 8/5; Megillah 1/9; Sefer Hamichtam and Hashlama ibid; Ravya 153 and 159; Peri Chadash 124; P”M 124 M”Z 4

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule one fulfills his obligation if he answers Amen to a blessing, and he knows the identity of the blessing, even if he did not hear the blessing. [Beis Yosef 124 in opinion of Rashi and Tosafus, which is the 2nd opinion in Admur 124/11; See however Peri Chadash ibid and Mamar Mordechai 124/11; P”M ibid] Other Poskim rule that by a Chazan with a Minyan, one fulfills his obligation if he answers Amen to a blessing, and he knows the identity of the blessing, even if he did not hear the entire blessing but only its end. [Raavad brought in Michtam and Rashbatz and Meiri Brachos 47a]

[32] The reason: As one does not fulfill his obligation with any blessing unless he hears the entire blessing from beginning to end. [Admur ibid] Vetzaruch Iyun from Admur 124/11 which implies that if one knew which blessing was being said, then according to the second opinion one may answer Amen and seemingly has fulfilled his obligation with this blessing. [So learns Beis Yosef 124 in opinion of Rashi and Tosafus, which is the 2nd opinion in Admur 124/11] Furthermore, perhaps even according to the first opinion if he transgressed and answered Amen he has fulfilled his obligation. In truth however the Poskim rule that the entire dispute in 124/11 is only with regards to whether one may answer Amen, and not at all regarding whether one can be Yoztei the blessing, as in order to be Yoztei the blessing If one learns that the entire dispute in 124/11 is only regarding whether one can answer Amen and according to all he has not fulfilled his obligation if he did not hear the entire blessing. [Peri Chadash ibid; P”M 124 M”Z 4] Vetzaruch Iyun then how is there ever a case that one intends to fulfill his obligation if he did not hear the blessing. The moment he notices that he did not hear the blessing he does not have in mind to fulfill his obligation, so how would this dispute ever apply.

[33] Admur 46/1; M”A 46/8; Peri Chadash 46/3

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that one fulfills his obligation of Meiah Brachos with answering Amen over the blessing even if he did not hear the blessing, so long as he knows which blessing was. [Beis Yosef 46; P”M 124 M”Z 4]

[34] The reason: The reason for this is because the obligation of Meiah Brachos is different than the obligation of other blessings, and thus is permitted to answer Amen even if one did not hear the blessing, even according to the first opinion in 124/11. [P”M ibid]

[35]  Igros Kodesh 13/179 [printed in Shulchan Menachem 1/81] based on Admur 124/11; Rama 124/11; M”a 124/18; Piskeiy Teshuvos 56/3

The reason: There is no need for a person to hear the natural voice of the Chazan or person reciting Kaddish or blessing in order to be allowed to answer Amen, Kaddish and Kedusha, so long as one knows the blessing that he is answering for, and is not being Yotzei the blessing with the person saying it. [See Admur 124/11 for various opinions and details of this matter, and that according to all one may answer for Amen of Kaddish, Kedusha and blessings if one knows the blessing that one is answering for, even though he did not hear any words of the blessing. So also rules Rama 124/11 and M”A 124/18] This is based on an explicit statement of the Talmud  Sukkah 51b that the Shul of Alexandria there were at times over 1,200,000 worshippers and they could not all hear the Chazan. They thus established a system that the Chazan would raise a flag to symbol to the congregation for when they should answer Amen. This proves that there is no need to actually hear the blessing in order to answer Amen. [M”A ibid; Rebbe ibid]

[36] See Igros Kodesh 13/221 [printed in Shulchan Menachem 1/81]

[37] See Admur 124/11; Piskeiy Teshuvos 56/3

[38] Admur ibid

[39] Admur 215/2

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule one is not obligated to answer Amen for such a blessing and it is merely voluntary to do so. [See Biur Halacha 215 “Chayav” based on Taz and Mamar Mordechai, brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos 215/3]

[40] Conclusion of Admur 124/11 that one is to be stringent like both opinions and according to the first opinion one is not Yotzei if he does not hear the blessing from the person and he thus may not answer Amen due to it being an Amen Yesoma.

[41] The Halachic issues regarding this question are 1) Is this considered an Amen Yesoma? [Admur 124/11] 2) Must one suspect that there are feces interfering between the answerer and the person saying the blessing? [Admur 55/22]

[42] Piskeiy Teshuvah 167; Rav SZ”A in Minchas Shlomo 9/1; Moadim Uzmanim 6/105; Mishpitei Uziel 1/5 [brought in Igros Kodesh 13/221as opinion of Sefaradim]; Beir Moshe 3/166-168; See Mishneh Sachir 30; Tzitz Eliezer 20/19; Ratz Katzevi 2/10; Piskeiy Teshuvos 56/3

[43] The reason: Being that there may be feces or idols that intervene between him and the area that the blessing or Minyan is taking place. [See Admur 55/22; Koveitz Ohalei Sheim 5/104] Alternatively, this is because it is defined as an Amen Yesoma since the person is not in the same room as the person saying the blessing. [Piskeiy Teshuvah ibid; Minchas Shlomo ibid; Moadim Uzmanim ibid] Vetzaruch Iyun Gadol as to why being in a different area would make it an Amen Yesoma, contrary to the explicit ruling in Admur 55/22 based on the Gemara and Poskim

[44] Minchas Elazar 2/72; Igros Moshe 2/108; 4/91; Yechaveh Daas 2/68; See Igros Kodesh 13/179 and 13/221 and Likkutei Sichos 21/497 [printed in Shulchan Menachem 1/81] that the Ashkenazim [i.e. Minchas Elazar of Hungary] are lenient in this, thus implying that the Rebbe rules like the opinion.

[45] The reason: This is permitted as a) There is no need to be in the same room as a person in order to answer Amen, [Admur 55/22] Now, although most certainly there are feces or idol worship in-between, nevertheless we are lenient being that the phone wires that carry the voice bypass the feces and idols. This is in addition to that the wires are in the air, higher than ten Tefachim and is thus considered a different Reshus. [Minchas Elazar ibid; See Admur 345/17]b) There is no need to hear the actual voice of the person saying the blessing so long as one knows what blessing he is answering for. [Admur 124/11]

[46] So seems to be the leaning opinion of the Rebbe ibid; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 56/3 that one may be lenient regarding Amen of a blessing [however not obligatory] however not regarding Kaddish and Kedusha

[47] See Admur 124/11 regarding the definition of an Amen Yesoma; Mishpitei Uziel ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos 215/3

[48] The reason: If it is not live then there is no greater Amen Yesoma than this. [See Admur ibid]

[49] Rebbe in Shulchan Menachem 3/319; Daas Torah 689 based on Halachos Ketanos; Mahraiy Engel Brachos 25; Minchas Shlomo 1/9; Eretz Tzvi 1/23; Minchas Yitzchak 1/37 and 3/38; Yechaveh Daas 2/68; 3/54; Mishneh Halachos 4/85; Kinyan Torah 1/75; Igros Moshe 2/108; 4/126 [not to do so initially]; Sheivet Halevi 5/84; Beir Moshe 3/166-168; Piskeiy Teshuvos 689/3

Other Poskim: The following Poskim are lenient are permit hearing the Megillah through a microphone and the like: Minchas Elazar 2/72; Mikraei Kodesh 11; Tzitz Eliezer 8/11; See Igros Moshe ibid that his leaning opinion is to permit being Yotzei and that so should be done in  a case of need, that one is unable to hear Havdala otherwise.

[50] The reason: As a) One may not be Yotzei a blessing unless he hears the actual voice of the person saying it. [Admur 124/11] and b) “What is heard is not a man’s voice at all (and does not even resemble the case of one who sounds a Shofar in a pit). It is obviously most novel, even strange, to suggest that an indirect effect (koach kocho) and a basic transformation of the very nature of speech, should serve as a substitute for speech. Even though the recent scholars who have ruled otherwise include reputed poskim, it is evident from their very responsa that those who explained them the nature and workings of the telephone made a basic mistake.” [Rebbe ibid]

[51] Conclusion of Admur 124/11 that one is to be stringent like both opinions and according to the first opinion one is not Yotzei if he does not hear the blessing from the person and he thus may not answer Amen due to it being an Amen Yesoma.

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