Halacha for Thursday 23 Shevat 5778 February 8 2018

Birkat Hamazon and the Amida Prayer

Question: If a Torah scholar or an elderly enters the room while one is reciting Birkat Hamazon, must one rise for them? Similarly, may one signal to a young child to be quiet while one is reciting the Amida prayer?

Answer: One of the greatest Sephardic luminaries who lived approximately sixty years ago was the saintly Hagaon Harav Efraim Ha’Kohen zt”l, father of Hagaon Harav Shalom Cohen Shlit”a. He was the greatest of the Mekubalim in Yeshivat Porat Yosef and all of the Mekubalim who emerged from the Yeshiva were his students. He merited studying Torah under the Maran Rabbeinu Yosef Haim zt”l, the saintly Ben Ish Hai, after which he continued toiling diligently in Torah through extreme poverty. He merited disseminating Torah among the Jewish nation for decades.

Indeed, Hagaon Harav Efraim Ha’Kohen inquired about the above question regarding Birkat Hamazon from Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l (in the year 5707/1947, when Maran zt”l was only twenty-six years old) since the Poskim write that Birkat Hamazon is extremely precious and its severity is compared to that of the Amida prayer. Regarding the Amida prayer, one may certainly not hint anything or speak, as the Gemara states in Masechet Berachot that while praying the Amida prayer, one may not even respond to the greetings of a Jewish king. If so, it would seem that the same applies regarding Birkat Hamazon.

Maran zt”l replied to him that when the Gemara states that one may not respond to a Jewish king during the Amida prayer, this refers to actually speaking; however, nodding one’s head slightly before him is permitted. The Shaare Teshuva (Chapter 104) writes explicitly that if a rabbi of a congregation knows that the congregation is waiting for him to finish praying before beginning the repetition of the Amida and the rabbi wishes to pray for somewhat longer, he may wave his hand to the Chazzan in order to motion to him to begin the repetition so as not to delay the entire congregation and so that his concentration is not disturbed by the knowledge that the entire congregation is waiting for him. Maran zt”l proceeds to discuss this idea using the words of the Poskim.

Similarly, his son, the great Rishon Le’Zion in his Sefer Yalkut Yosef (Chapter 183) discusses this matter and concludes that halachically, if an elderly man or Torah scholar enters the room while one is reciting Birkat Hamazon, one should rise before them even in the middle of Birkat Hamazon. He supports this ruling with several more proofs.

Based on this we can learn that if a child is causing a disturbance in the synagogue during the Amida prayer by speaking and the like, one may motion to him to be quiet so that he does not continue to disturb all of the congregants.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Laws of the Holiday of Sukkot

As per the request of many of our members and as a public service, we shall now list a synopsis of some laws which are essential for the upcoming Sukkot holiday: The Sukkah must be made of three walls and Sechach (the roof). The walls may be made of any material which can withstand a normal wi......

Read Halacha

If One is Uncertain Whether or Not One Has Requested Rain in One’s Prayer

In the previous Halachot, we have discussed the basic Halachot of requesting dew and rain in the “Blessing of the Years.” We have likewise mentioned that if one has completed the Amida prayer and remembers that he has not requested rain, one must repeat the entire Amida prayer, for one i......

Read Halacha

The Laws of One Who Forgets to Mention “Ve’Ten Tal U’Matar” in the “Blessing of the Years”

In the previous Halacha, we have discussed in a general manner that our Sages enacted that beginning from the Seventh of Marcheshvan (outside of Israel from the Fourth or Fifth of December), one begins reciting “Ve’Ten Tal U’Matar” (a request for dew and rain) in the “B......

Read Halacha

“The Blessing of the Years”

Beginning from last night, the Seventh of Marcheshvan, we have begun to request rain in the Amida prayer (only in the Land of Israel; the law for those outside of Israel will be discussed further). Let us therefore review some of these pertinent laws. The Enactment of the Sages to Request Rain O......

Read Halacha


Calling One’s Friend an Offensive Nickname

In the previous Halachot we have explained some general laws of the prohibition of verbal oppression or verbally hurting another. The Gemara (Baba Metzia 58b) states: “Rabbi Chanina said: All who descend to Gehinnom ascend from there (all wicked individuals who are sentenced to Gehinnom wil......

Read Halacha

Summary of the Laws of Verbal Oppression

In the previous Halachot we have discussed the primary laws of verbal oppression or hurting someone with words. We must now explain an important rule regarding these laws. The laws of verbal oppression are divided into two categories: The first is verbally misleading another (a form of trickery),......

Read Halacha

Verbal Oppression

The Mishnah in Masechet Baba Metzia (58b) teaches, “Just as there is a prohibition to cheat in business, there is likewise a prohibition to verbally hurt someone else, as the verse states (Vayikra 25), ‘And one shall not oppress his fellow and you shall fear your G-d.’” Hurti......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Verbal Oppression

In the previous Halacha, we have begun discussing the prohibition of verbal oppression between man and his fellow and between husband and wife. We shall now discuss some of the laws of verbal oppression based on the rulings of Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat, Chapter 228). “V......

Read Halacha