- Question: [Thursday 28th Kisleiv 5782]
We are accustomed, as many of the people are as well, to answer the Amen after the blessings of the Hanukkah menorah in a long tune which stretches out the Amen. One of my children said to me that she heard that it is forbidden to do so as it ruins and destroys the Amen. Is this correct?
Your daughter is correct, as it is improper to stretch out the Amen, and hence although the amen may be slightly lengthened, it should not be lengthened too much, and certainly one should not say it in a melody in a way that the Alef is pronounced in a double form as “Ah-Ahh-Men.” In the event that a person is answering the Amen in length, there is no need for the person lighting to wait for the lengthy Amens to conclude prior to his lighting [and in truth perhaps there is no need for him to wait at all for even a regular Amen to finish].
This is quite an interesting question as it touches upon the subject of Amen Ketufa, and saying an Amen which is not comprehensible, as well as a blessing for a long life for whoever lengthens his Amen. The Talmud and Poskim records various laws and restrictions regarding how Amen is to be answered. The proper answering of Amen is so severe that Ben Azaiy states in the Talmud that on one’s form of answer is dependent the longevity of his life. One of the restrictions listed is that one is not to answer an Amen Ketufa. Now, regarding the definition of an Amen Ketufa we find two approaches, with the second being that one is not to split the Amen into two. Simply speaking, this means that one should not first say the “Ah” and then make a slight break and say the “Mein,” as doing so splits the word into two. Now, perhaps also included in this prohibition is if one lengthens too much on the “Ah,” and stretches out the Alef in a way that it no longer seems connected to the “Men”, especially if he says the Alef as two vocals as “Ah-Ahh-Men.” Although I have not found any sources which directly deal with this specific question, seemingly it is not a problem of Amen Ketufa, as the Poskim make no mention of this issue when discussing the lengthening of pronunciation of the Amen, and letters in Shema. Whatever the case, one should nevertheless not do so, as even if it’s not considered to split the word and be an Amen Ketufa, it adds to it another Alef, and is seemingly pronouncing it incorrectly [as the way that it is usually said with the Niggun is Ah-Ahh-Men]. This is aside for the general negation against stretching out the Amen. A precedent for the negation of lengthening on the pronunciation of a letter of a word can be found laws of shema where it states that one may not lengthen too much on the pronunciation of the letter Daled of Echad as it ruins is proper vowelization. This is likewise explicitly ruled in the Talmud and Poskim regarding the laws of answering amen in which it states that although the Amen may not be said quickly and rather is to be slightly lengthened, one is not to lengthen too much in the Amen, as the word is not expressed properly when it is over extended. Admur there explicitly rules that those who lengthen the Amen too much are “mistaken,” as says Rav Chisda that “Whoever answers Amen too much is mistaken.” Thus, although the sages state that whoever lengthens in his answering of amen is given long life, this is on condition that he doesn’t ruin the amen in his elongated pronunciation. Accordingly, it is best not to answer the customary melody stretched out amen after the Hanukkah lighting, and indeed I watched a few videos of the 770 lighting in the presence of the Rebbe, and in all the videos that I saw, the congregation answered a regular amen and not the drawn out melody long amen.
Sources: See regarding Amen Ketufa: Admur 124:11; Michaber and Rama 124:8; Beis Yosef 124; Brachos 47a; Mordechai Brachos 168; Sefer Agudah Brachos 7:171; Sefer Heshkol 1:25; Meiri Brachos 47a; Kaf Hachaim 124:46; See regarding not lengthening the Amen and that there is no need to wait for him to finish his Amen: Admur 124:12; Michaber and Rama 124:8-9; Tur 124; Rambam Brachos 1:14; Brachos 47a and Tosafus there; See Yabia Omer O.C. 6:7; See regarding not to lengthen the Daled of Shema: Admur 61:7; M”A 61:6; M”B 61:21; Kaf Hachaim 61:26; See regarding lengthening other letters of Shema: Michaber and Tur 61:8 [regarding the Alef]; Ketzos Hashulchan 19:17 [that the same applies to the Ches]; See Admur 61:21 that these laws apply by all prayers and even Torah learning