- Question: [Thursday, 23rd Sivan 5781]
I was reciting Shnayim Mikra in Shul and heard Kaddish from the early Mincha Gedola minyan. May/Must I answer Amen and if I do then do I have to restart the Shnayim Mikra?
Yes, you may choose to answer Amen to Kaddish or to a blessing even if you’re in the middle of Shnayim Mikra, even though you are generally particular against interrupting in the middle. There is no need for you to start from the beginning in such a case. Nonetheless, seemingly you are not obligated to answer Amen if you choose not to do so being that you are involved in Torah learning.
Middle of verse of curses: If you are in the middle of reciting a verse that contains negative aspects, such as retribution and punishment [i.e. Parshas Bechukosaiy, Shelach, Ki Savo], you should not stop to answer Amen for someone’s blessing. Initially however, it is best to delay or precede the verse in order so he is able to answer Amen to the blessing.
Explanation: Although there is an accustomed stringency against interrupting in middle of the recital of Shanyim Mikra, certainly this custom and stringency, which is not a letter of the law requirement, does not supersede the general obligation of participating in the answering of Amen to a blessing or Kaddish. Now, although the above answering of Amen is not an obligation, as the Poskim rule that one who is in the middle of learning Torah is not required to interrupt and answer amen, nonetheless, certainly one is permitted to do so. Seemingly, in such a case that one answers Amen there is no need to restart from the beginning being that one has a general obligation to answer Amen to Kaddish or a blessing.
Sources: See regarding making an interruption in middle of Shnayim Mikra: Admur 285:6; Shlah [Torah Oar 138a] in name of Ramak, and so is recorded also in Olas Shabbos 285:2; M”A 285:11; M”B 285:6; Kaf Hachaim 285:32; To note the Rebbe in Lekutei Sichos 24 p. 342 does not unequivocally state that it is our custom to follow this opinion and rather uses the wording “those that are stringent to follow this custom”. This is in contrast to other matters of Shnayim Mikra mentioned in the above letter in which the Rebbe explicitly states the Chabad custom. The Beir Heiytiv [285:1] writes “It is a great prohibition to speak in middle of Shnayim Mikra”. The M”B in Shaareiy Tziyon 285:11 explains this to refer to speaking in middle of a Parsha [Pesucha:Setuma] as it is considered like one who is interrupting his Torah study for mundane matters. However, between Parshiyos everyone agrees that from the letter of the law it is allowed. Admur however makes no mention of there being any prohibition involved and rather simply mentions it as a custom. The M”A 285:11 simply writes it is proper not to talk in-between. See regarding the exemption of answering Amen if one is in the middle of Torah learning: Ashel Avraham 215; Orchos Chaim 124:6; Toras Chaim Sofer 66:8 that one who is involved in a Mitzvah is exempt from a Mitzvah; Divrei David 41; Mayim Rabim 2, brought in Kaf Hachaim 124:25; Shevet Halevi 9:43; Tzitz Eliezer 11:4; Salmas Chaim 62; Kinyan Torah 2:36; 4:9; Pischa Zuta 5; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:73-74; Yabia Omer 9:3; Shearim Hametzuyanim Behalacha 20:3; Piskeiy Teshuvos 51:11 and 55:29 and 215:4; Vetzaruch Iyun from Igros Kodesh that one is obligated to answer in-between the Shel Yad and Shel Rosh even though one is in the midst of a Mitzvah. Likewise, Tzaruch Iyun from the story with the Levush who was in the midst of learning and was nevertheless punished for not answering Amen; see regarding not to stop to answer Amen in middle of a verse of curses: Kaf Hachaim 215:10 in name of Meorei Or and Orchos Chaim 215:3