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

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

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

Eating and Washing One’s Self Yom Kippur

Some Laws of Yom Kippur All are obligated to fast on Yom Kippur, including pregnant and nursing women. Any woman whose health is at risk due to the fast should consult a prominent Torah scholar who is well-versed in these laws and he should render his ruling whether or not she must fast. One whose ......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Shevi’it in a Cooperative Garden

This year (5782) is the Shemitta year. In previous Halachot, we have already explained the basic laws of Shemitta including the fact that one may not plant in or work (in any manner) any land within the Land of Israel unless the work is meant to protect the crops from harm that will befall them if t......

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

When the Sanctity of Shevi’it Will Apply to Fruits and Vegetables and More on “Heter Mechira”

In the previous Halachot we have explained that any produce grown in Jewish-owned fields in the Land of Israel this year (5782) retain the sanctity of Shevi’it. We have likewise discussed the ramifications of this sanctity and the proper way to treat such produce. This sanctity rests even on f......

Read Halacha

Sprouting Avocado Pits During Shevi’it and the Blessing on Hydroponic Produce

Question: What is the blessing on vegetables that grow from the water (and not from the ground)? Likewise, is it permissible to plant such hydroponic produce during Shevi’it? Answer: The Blessing on Mushrooms and Truffles The Mishnah in Masechet Berachot (40b) states: “On things whi......

Read Halacha

Forbidden and Permissible Forms of Work During Shevi’it

In this Halacha and the next, we shall discuss the basic laws of tending to a garden during Shevi’it. We shall not discuss all of the details of these laws, for these laws do not apply to those residing outside of Israel. Works Forbidden by Torah Law and Rabbinic Enactment Some works forbi......

Read Halacha