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KI SHAYM HASHEM EKRA….

When I call out the Name of Hashem, ascribe greatness to our G-d.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 32:3

From this verse, Our Sages derived:

  • That a blessing is recited before Torah study: (Brachot 21a);
  • That when three or more people eat together, one calls upon the others to join in Zimmun, communal recitation of Grace After Meals. (Brachot 45a)
  • When G-d's sacred Name was heard in the Bait Hamikdash, those assembled there were to respond aloud "Boruch Shaym K'vod Malchuto L'olam Va-ed." "Blessed is the Name of His glorious kingdom for all eternity." (Taanit 16b).

Today, whenever the Chazzan (cantor) in Shul (Synagogue) mentions G-d's name in a Bracha (blessing), and also when we hear an individual say a Bracha, we respond with a blessing.

When we hear Hashem's Name at the beginning of the Bracha, we respond "Boruch Hu U'Varuch Sh'mo," and at the end of the Bracha we respond "Amen," (pronounced Amain).

"Amen" is short for "(K)ayl Melech Ne'eman" (Hashem, Trustworthy King). The letters of "Amen, " "Aleph, Mem, and Nun," are the first letters of each word in this phrase.

What you are really saying when you respond "Amen," to a Bracha is: "It is true, and I believe what is being said."

It is a great mitzva to answer "Amen" when one hears another person's Bracha. One who answers "Amen" is considered greater than the one who said the Bracha. (Brachot 53b).

"There is nothing as precious to Hashem as the answering of "Amen" (Devarim Raba)."

The reward for answering "Amen," "Borchu" and "Amen Y'hei Shmei Rabba…" is tremendous. Our Sages teach us that one who answers "Amen, Y'hei Shmei Rabba" with all of his might, all his sins are forgiven.

However, the punishment for not answering "Amen" is very severe.

This awesome story from the Sefer "Moreshet Avot" reveals how severe the punishment for not answering "Amen" to a Bracha can be.

"Rav Mordechai Yaffo (known as the "Levush") once went to study by a great Sephardic Scholar named Rabbi Abohav.

One day Rabbi Abohav's son made a Bracha and everyone answered "Amen" except for Rabbi Yaffo. Rabbi Abohav was so angry with him that he excommunicated him.

After 30 days, Rabbi Yaffo asked forgiveness which Rabbi Abohav granted.

Rabbi Abohav then told him a story depicting the severe punishment for not answering "Amen," explaining that he excommunicated him to save him from a harsher punishment.

"Before the expulsions in Spain of 1492, there were holy Jewish communities there. The King attempted to expel them many times, but there was this one pious Jew whom the King liked very much and he would always save the Jews from expulsion.

After one such edict, the Jews came to the king's friend begging him to intervene on their behalf. He agreed to go to the King, but wished to daven Mincha (say his afternoon prayers) first. They persuaded him to go immediately, since it was a matter of life or death.

The King was very happy to see him, and they started conversing about the decree. Meanwhile, a priest came in and started to bless the King with some long Latin blessing. The Jew, who had not yet davened Mincha, withdrew to a corner and started to daven, hoping that he would finish davening (praying) before the priest would conclude his blessing, thus his absence would go unnoticed.

The priest, however, concluded his blessing while the Jew was still davening Mincha, and called upon everyone present to answer "Amen" on his blessing. Everyone answered "Amen" except the Jew who was still davening.

Afterwards, the priest asked the Jew if he answered "Amen" to his blessing. When the pious Jew told him that he didn't answer "Amen," the priest flew into a rage. He started ripping his hair out, screaming that now his blessing will not be fulfilled because the Jew didn't answer "Amen."

When the King heard this, he also became furious and ordered the Jew be killed with a cruel death and his body sent home. He then expelled all the Jews from his kingdom.

A close friend of the murdered Jew fasted for many days to be allowed to know what sin this pious Jew had committed to deserve such a cruel death. The murdered Jew appeared to his friend in a dream and explained to him that one time, (and only one time), he neglected to answer "Amen" to his child's blessing. Until this incident the Heavenly Court didn't prosecute him. When this priest got angry over his lack of saying "Amen," the Heavenly Court prosecuted him and sentenced him to die such a horrible death."

"Rabbi Abohav concluded; "Heaven will forgive you on the condition that you publicize this story, and warn everyone to be careful and always answer 'Amen'.""

If this is the punishment for not answering "Amen," we can imagine how much reward is in store for those who answer "Amen."


In the Sefer "Mofes Hador," the biography of Rebbe Yechezkel Levenstien, It is said that he once saw a grandchild of Rebbe Yisroel Salanter crying.

He asked the boy of five years old, "Why are you crying, sweet one?"

The child said, "Because I want to eat."

"Why don't you eat?" Rebbe Yechezkel asked him.

"Because I need first to recite a blessing," the child answered.

"Do you not know the blessing to be recited over this food?" Rebbe Yechezkel asked.

"Yes, I know it," the child responded, "but there is no one to answer "Amen" after my blessing. How can I say it?"



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