Halacha for Sunday 8 Tevet 5779 December 16 2018

Answering Amen to a Child’s Blessing-The Behavior of Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l

Question: May one answer Amen to a blessing recited by a young child?

Answer: The Baraita in Masechet Berachot (53b) states, “One answers Amen to a blessing recited by anyone except for young children. However, this only applies when they are learning how to recite the blessing with their rabbi, but if they are reciting the blessing in order to exempt themselves, Amen is answered to their blessings.”

Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 215) explains this to mean that it is permissible to teach children the proper way to recite a blessing even though one is reciting a blessing in vain, for when one teaches a young child to bless, this is done even when the child has not done anything (or eaten anything) to require a blessing. For instance, if one wishes to educate one’s child to recite the “Boreh Peri Ha’etz” blessing, one may ask him to recite the blessing several times on the same fruit although halachically, he should only be reciting the blessing once. One should therefore not answer Amen after such blessings, for one cannot say Amen, which is in essence verifying and affirming the words of the blessing, when the blessing is not a blessing at all.

However, if they are reciting a blessing to exempt themselves (i.e. they are actually performing an action which requires the recitation of a blessing), since they are obligated to recite blessings before the age of Bar/Bat Mitzvah based on the Mitzvah of educating them, one should indeed answer Amen to their blessing.

Nevertheless, the Acharonim point out that this applies only to children who have reached the age of education, which is when they understand the idea of blessings and know to Whom they are blessing; however, one should not answer Amen to the blessings of toddlers and very young children, for we must be concerned that their body is not properly clean. Thus, when the Tur and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch write that one should answer Amen to the blessings of children when they are reciting the blessing in order to exempt themselves, this refers only to children who have reached the age of education. Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that because this age is doubtful, one should answer Amen only when the child is nine years of age and above.

Based on this, one should educate one’s children to clean their body very well, for if they do not clean themselves well after using the facilities, all of their blessings and prayers will have been in vain.

Similarly, just as it is necessary to educate children to recite blessings, it is likewise necessary to educate children to answer Amen to blessings. When the child sees adults not answering Amen to his blessings, he may treat answering Amen lightly since he does not understand why no one is answering Amen to his blessings. For this reason, when a young child would recite a blessing next to Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l, he would subtly answer “Ameh” (without the final “n”) so as not to complete the word. The child would therefore not realize that a proper Amen was not being answered to his blessings and in this way, he would nonetheless be educated with regards to answering Amen.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Customary Order of Rosh Hashanah

It is customary to eat certain symbolic foods during the two nights of Rosh Hashanah which signify good fortune for the entire upcoming year. It is therefore customary to eat black-eyed peas, pumpkin, leek, spinach, dates, pomegranates, apples dipped in honey, and meat of a sheep’s head on the......

Read Halacha

The Blessings on Thunder and Lightning

One who sees lightning recites the blessing, “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam Oseh Ma’aseh Bereshit.” One who hears thunder recites the blessing, “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam She’Kocho Ugvurato Maleh Olam.” Until When Can On......

Read Halacha

“And Your Camp Shall Be Holy”

Question: May I pray when my child is walking around the house in a dirty diaper? Answer: We derive from the verse in the Torah, “And your camp shall be holy”, that one may not recite words of Torah, pray, or perform any acts of holiness (for instance donning Tefillin) in the restroom......

Read Halacha

Women and the Shabbat Meals-The Custom of Maran zt”l

Question: Are women obligated to eat all three Shabbat meals as are men? Answer: In the previous Halachot, we have explained the primary laws regarding the Shabbat meals, including the obligation to eat three meals on Shabbat: One on Shabbat night, one on Shabbat morning, and one on Shabbat after......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Mentioning “Mashiv Ha’Ruach”

We Begin Reciting “Mashiv Ha’Ruach” “Mashiv Ha’Ruach U’Morid Ha’Geshem” is a praise we recite to Hashem during the winter months within the “Mechayeh Ha’Metim” blessing of the Amidah as is printed in all Siddurim. We begin recitin......

Read Halacha

Using Frozen Bread for “Double Bread”

We have already discussed that there is a Mitzvah to recite the Hamotzi blessing during the Shabbat meals on “double bread,” i.e. two loaves of bread. It is fairly common that one does not have two loaves of bread for this Mitzvah and would like to join a frozen loaf of bread from the fr......

Read Halacha

“Double Bread”

In the previous Halacha, we have explained the laws of Seuda Shelishit and would also like to discuss the laws of women regarding Seuda Shelishit. However, since this issue is connected to the laws of women and “double bread” on Shabbat, let us first discuss the basic laws of “doub......

Read Halacha

Speaking Between Washing One’s Hands and the “Hamotzi” Blessing

Question: Is one permitted to speak between washing one’s hands and reciting the Hamotzi blessing? Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Berachot (42a) states: “Immediately following hand-washing, one must recite the blessing.” The Rishonim disagree as to the explanation of this Gemara......

Read Halacha