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I am committed to a life provoking the invasion of The Coming Kingdom through: human service, ecstatic prayer, halakhic observation, community building, nurturing hope, and drawing down abiding faith...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

II Adar-Halakha of the Month Part 3

Hello all! I hope the second installment of this week's discussion of "Barukh Hu Uverukh Sh'mo" and "Amen" was good food for thought and practice. As we are nearing the end of this month, with Rosh Chodesh Nisan coming next week, I wanted to share just a little more on this halakha in the hopes of continued discussion before we move on.

"Barukh Hu Uverukh Sh'mo" and "Amen", as we have discussed below, are verbal expressions of praise. They are also expressions of agreement.

Agreement has incredible value. In fact, b. B'rakhot 53b teaches us that one who responds, "Amen" is greater than the one who recited the blessing! Why would this be so? I would suggest that the agreement that occurs when one blesses, and another responds, is a greater expression of God's will in the world. One person reciting a blessing creates vertical agreement. In other words, the one saying the b'rakha is in agreement with God's will. When there is a another person responding to the blessing then the agreement does not remain only vertical, it becomes horizontal also. When more and more people agree with God's will, then there is a greater manifestation of olam haba in olam hazah. Humanity's agreement with God's will allows blessing to flow in great abundance.

"Barukh Hu Uverukh Sh'mo" and "Amen" are declarations that reflect agreement with God and a fellow human being. This realization transforms these responses from being mere performative excercises to verbal expressions of the Kingdom to which we are responsible.

Any thoughts on this, or other layers of meaning in the halakhot of "Barukh Hu Uverukh Sh'mo" and "Amen"?


  1. This topic is very interesting, and I have been thinking about it more and more now that it has been discussed here. So thank you. One thing that I often have run into is that when I say a bracha I often say quickly to myself.(sometimes wanting to hurry and be unseen so that I am not perceived as being unavailable to talk to someone if they approach me. I don't want to talk and interrupt the blessing, but I don't want them to think I am being rude if they don't realize what's going on.)

    So, since responding to a bracha is of such great value to share in praising God with others around us should we make sure to say them audibly to others around us? (assuming they understand what's going on. lol )

  2. Anonymous,

    I understand the dynamic you're speaking of. I think it is true that it makes most sense for a b'rakha to be audible when the people around you are aware enough to respond to it. I try to make a conscious effort to be audible in my b'rakhot when I am with others who can respond, and in environments when it is appropriate.