Concluding Go’al Yisroel Silently
Is This a Proper Course of Action?
There is a common practice for the shaliach tzibbur to conclude the bracha of go’al Yisroel (that God redeemed Israel) silently. This is because this bracha immediately precedes the Shemoneh Esrei. The intention of concluding it silently is to not place the congregation in a position of having to choose between answering or not answering a doubtful amen.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 111:1) cites two opinions about answering amen at this juncture. The Mechaber opposes answering amen here because of the concept of juxtaposing geulah (redemption) and tefillah (i.e., the Amidah). Answering amen between go’al Yisroel and Shemoneh Esrei would constitute an interruption between geulah and tefillah. The Rema, however, permits answering amen after go’al Yisroel, and he says that such reflects the law in practice.
Rabbi Wildman concludes that the practice for the shaliach tzibbur to conclude go’al Yisroel silently is appropriate when everyone davens together in one service. It makes sense in such a case, as it keeps the congregation from having to interrupt between geulah and tefillah. It’s different, however, when there are multiple minyanim, one after the other. When there are people present who are waiting for the next minyan, the shaliach tzibbur is not permitted to conclude go’al Yisroel silently. This is because the people who are not in the middle of davening need to be able to answer amen. As we said earlier (in Siman 27), if a person recites a bracha silently, he robs Hashem of the “amens” that were due to Him. Along similar lines, the Talmud in Brachos (35b) says that if a person derives benefit from this world without reciting a bracha, he’s called a thief because He robbed Hashem of praises He was owed. The same is true when it comes to depriving Hashem of an amen.
Even if everyone present is a member of the current minyan, there’s really no reason for the shaliach tzibbur to conclude go’al Yisroel silently; no authority specifically requires this. The worst that will happen is that a congregant will answer amen between geulah and tefillah but the Rema permits this and calls it the accepted practice. This ruling is concurred to by the Levush, for kabbalistic reasons (Magen Avraham 111:2), the Shulchan Aruch HaRav (69:9) and others.
Rabbi Wildman notes that if one is concerned about this matter, he can simply follow the advice of the Magen Avraham (66:11) and make sure to conclude the bracha of go’al Yisroel along with the shaliach tzibbur; this would relieve him of the obligation to respond amen to that blessing. [Siman 88]
While we’re on the subject of parts of a bracha not being heard, it’s important to note here what the Shulchan Aruch says (OC 213:3): if a person wants to fulfill his obligation in a bracha through another person’s recitation of it, it’s insufficient simply to hear the bracha even if one responds amen to it. One must hear the bracha in its entirety from start to finish, he must have the intention to fulfill his obligation through the other person’s recitation of the bracha, and the one reciting the bracha must have the intention to fulfill the listener’s obligation. [Siman 89]
Other Important Amens in Tefillah
There are four brachos toward which one must be very conscientious when it comes to answering amen. These are “Shomer amo Yisroel la’ad” (that Hashem eternally guards His people, Israel) in Maariv on weekdays and its Shabbos counterpart, “Haporeis succas shalom” (that Hashem spreads a canopy of peace over us); “Hamachazir shechinaso l’Tziyon” (that God returns His Presence to Zion); “Mechayei hameisim” (that God revives the dead); and “Hagomeil” (recited by those who survived dangerous circumstances). One must answer amen to Hagomeil before continuing with the response “Mi she’g’malcha…” (wishing that God, Who bestowed kindness upon this person, always continue to do so). [Siman 90]