Amen in Various Parts of Davening

Answering Amen After Shemoneh Esrei

The Rema (OC 66:3) writes that when reciting tachanunim (supplications), one should certainly interrupt to respond amen to the brachos of ha(k)Eil haKadosh and shomeiah tefillah (that Hashem is the Holy God and that He hears prayer, respectively). The Mishnah Brurah there clarifies that “tachanunim” here refers to the paragraph of Elokai n’tzor that follows the end of Shemoneh Esrei. [Siman 75]

The Aruch HaShulchan (OC 122:2), however, writes that in the paragraph of Elokai n’tzor one may reply amen to any bracha so long as he has recited the verse “Yihiyu l’ratzon imrei fi…” (Psalms 19:15 – “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable before You, Hashem, my Rock and my Redeemer”) before the paragraph of Elokai n’tzor. The Mishnah Brurah – whose opinion comes from the Rashba – may well agree with this exception, limiting the response of amen only when one hasn’t recited Yihiyu l’ratzon before Elokai n’tzor. The Taz disagrees even in such a case but the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch and other authorities agree that one may answer any amen so long as he has recited Yihiyu l’ratzon before Elokai n’tzor. [Siman 76]

The Vilna Gaon’s siddur agrees with the lenient opinion. He writes that reciting “Yihiyu l’ratzon imrei fi…” is tantamount to taking one’s three steps back at the end of prayer: it signals that a person has concluded his Shemoneh Esrei. At that point, of course one can answer amen! One can do whatever he wants to at that point because he’s finished Shemoneh Esrei! [Siman 77]

Responding Amen to Barchu

Barchu is the call to communal prayer. When the shaliach tzibbur calls out “Barchu es Hashem hamevorach” (Bless Hashem, the Blessed One), the congregation responds “Baruch Hashem hamevorach l’olam va’ed” (Blessed be Hashem, Who is eternally blessed). Some people, however, are in the habit of answering amen when the one who recited Barchu repeats the response of Baruch Hashem hamevorach….

Siddur Derech HaChaim cites Shaarei Ephraim that some people respond amen immediately before they themselves respond “Baruch Hashem hamevorach l’olam va’ed.” This, he says, is a mistake. Since they’re going to reply with Baruch Hashem hamevorach… immediately, there’s no need for them to answer amen. They should, however, respond amen to the shaliach tzibbur when he repeats the response of Baruch Hashem hamevorach…. (This is despite the fact that they just recited this response themselves.)

The Pri Megadim calls the matter optional, and the Mishnah Brurah agrees: if one wants to answer amen, he may. If he prefers not to do so, he is not under any obligation. However, when one is at a place in the service where he’s not allowed to interrupt, one is not permitted to reply with this optional amen.

The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (15:8) writes that a member of the congregation may respond amen after the shaliach tzibbur has recited Baruch Hashem hamevorach… but the shaliach tzibbur is not to respond amen when the congregation says Baruch Hashem hamevorach…. Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi, however, is of the opinion that one should not respond amen to the shaliach tzibbur when he recites Baruch Hashem hamevorach…. because doing so is unnecessary. Accordingly, since there’s no need for the shaliach tzibbur to wait for the congregation to say amen, he may recite Baruch Hashem hamevorach… together with the congregation rather than after them. [Siman 81]

The Levush suggests that the shaliach tzibbur should avoid the problem altogether by reciting Baruch Hashem hamevorach… silently. This would save the congregation from entering into a situation of a doubtful amen.

Rav Yaakov Emden’s siddur, however, states explicitly that amen is to be said after the shaliach tzibbur recites Baruch Hashem hamevorach…. If there are exactly ten men in the minyan, including both the shaliach tzibbur and the congregants, then only Baruch Hashem hamevorach… should be recited, and not amen. [Siman 82]

Finally, the Chayei Adam (11:5) writes that after the shaliach tzibbur says Baruch Hashem hamevorach…, there’s no need for the congregants to answer amen. Rabbi Wildman concludes that since the great authorities hold such a diverse range of opinions, one can choose which practice to follow and have upon whom to rely. [Siman 83]

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