Tefillah Tips - Shavuot


One of the first words we learn to say for our davening is Amen. It is quite a moving experience to be part of a thundering AMEN in a large Beit Midrash or Synagogue. It is a spiritually powerful tool as well. The Talmud Shabbat 119b states “ Anyone who answers Amen with all his strength merits to have opened in front of him the gates of Gan Eden.” What does the word Amen mean? And what does it imply?

The word Amen is related to the word Emunah that means faith and/or belief. Therefore reciting Amen to a blessing or a prayer demonstrates a statement of affirmation that the blessing is true and hope that the prayer will be answered.

Amen is also an acronym. It stands for Ay-l Melech Neeman-G-d is a true and faithful king.

Amen is also an acronym. It stands for Ay-l Melech Neeman-G-d is a true and faithful king. The Halacha teaches that an individual says these three words before reciting the Shema if praying alone.

HaRav Shlomo Wolbe zt”l shlitta in his classic Aley Shor Bk2 pp286 reveals the deeper implications of the word Amen. He explains that mans relationship with G-d is three-dimensional. We know Him through His creation, His revelation at Sinai, as well as His promise of redemption.

Creation: We recognize G-d by his handiwork. A sunset, a rainbow, a glacier, the human body and the animal kingdom all showcase G-d’s involvement on this planet.

Revelation: At Mount Sinai 3308 years ago Hashem transcended from the heavens and uttered the first two commandments. The awesome encounter described in Deuteronomy 4:9 was a moment of national inspiration and prophesy when the Infinite came directly in contact with a finite.

Redemption: In Isaiah 8:10 it says “And on that day G-d will be one, and His name will be one.” We are promised that one day (may it be soon) all the nations of the world will recognize the one G-d and then evil and falsehood will be erased.

These three concepts are ensconced in the word Amen. Ay’l represents G-d’s trait of kindliness with which He created the world. Melech – He is our King due to the Torah we have received from Him. And Neeman – He is faithful and will one day reveal His grandeur to the world and bring redemption to all mankind.

After digesting these thoughts answering Amen to a blessing should never be the same. May we all be able to open the heavens with our prayers and merit to see the blessings of the Torah fulfilled.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Ephraim Epstein

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