Halacha for Monday 17 Av 5781 July 26 2021

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

Taking Haircuts and Shaving During the Omer Period

Abstaining from Taking Haircuts During the Omer It has become customary among the Jewish nation to refrain from taking haircuts during the Omer counting period: According to the Ashkenazi custom, until the 33rd day of the Omer and according to the Sephardic custom, until the morning of the 34th day......

Read Halacha

Praying Barefoot

Question: May one pray while wearing sandals or while one is barefoot? Answer: When one prays, one must prepare one’s environment, clothing, body, and thoughts accordingly, for one will be standing before the King of all kings. Respectable Garments While Praying The Gemara (Shabbat 9b) ......

Read Halacha

Question: How many “Kezayit”s (olive’s volume) of Matzah must one consume during the Pesach Seder?

Answer: One is obligated to eat altogether three “Kezayit”s of Matzah during the Pesach Seder. Every Kezayit amounts to approx. 30 grams of Matzah. Nevertheless, there is room for stringency to eat four or even five “Kezayit”s of Matzah, as we shall now explain. The Order......

Read Halacha

Kissing One’s Parents’ Hands on Shabbat Night- The Students of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai

Question: Should one kiss the hands of one’s parents and receive a blessing from them on Shabbat night and does the same apply equally to one’s father and mother? Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Avodah Zarah (17a) tells us that when Ulah (a sage who lived during the Talmudic era) would......

Read Halacha


Reciting the “Shehecheyanu” Blessing Upon Performing a Mitzvah for the First Time

Question: The custom in our community is that when a young woman reaches the age of Bat Mitzvah, she performs the Mitzvah of separating Challah for the first time and before doing so, she recites the blessing of “Shehecheyanu” as well upon performing this Mitzvah for the first time. Is t......

Read Halacha

Taking a Haircut of the Night of the 34th Day of the Omer This Year (5782)

Tomorrow night and Thursday will mark Lag Ba’Omer (the 33rd day of the Omer) and Friday will be the 34th day of the Omer. Until When Are Haircuts Forbidden? We have already discussed that one may not take a haircut or shave during the period of the counting of the Omer in addition to sever......

Read Halacha

The Pesach Seder-Kadesh

The famous order of the Seder of the eve of Pesach, Kadesh, Urchatz, Karpas, Yachatz, Magid, Rochtza, Motzi, Matzah, Maror, Korech, Shulchan Orech, Tzafun, Barech, Hallel, Nirtzah, was established by the leader of the entire Jewish nation, Rashi. The entire Jewish nation customarily follows this ord......

Read Halacha

Using Holy Names

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avot (Chapter 1, Mishnah 13) states: “He (Hillel) would say: Whoever does not add shall be gathered, whoever does not learn is worthy of death and whoever uses the crown shall pass.” Rabbeinu Ovadia of Bartenura explains the phrase “And whoever uses the cr......

Read Halacha