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Thought for the Day: How. When, Why of אמן/Awmein

As well document in Home Alone, even a very important mission can be ruined by failing to get all the participants at the right place at the right time.  Saying אמן with the correct intention, as mentioned, is important.  Still, if the אמן is misplaced or mispronounced, the entire mission can turn disastrous.

There are three defective sorts of אמן about which the Shulchan Aruch (124:8) warns: חטופה/hurried or snatched, קטופה/plucked, and יתומה/orphaned.  חטופה/hurried means either swallowing the first syllable (and just saying: 'mein) or saying the אמן before the bracha has been finished.  קטופה/plucked means dropping a hole letter or pronouncing the whole word as one syllable.  יתומה/orphaned means to just say אמן, but not as an answer or response to anything.  (That can happen if you walk into shul and hear everyone else answering אמן, so you figure, "heck!  I'll answer also!"  It can also happen if you have been in shul the whole time but your mind has been wandering and you just came back to your senses when you heard that congregation expressing their enthusiastic אמן.)  The punishment for them?  For חטופה/hurried he will be hurried out of this world.  For קטופה/plucked he will be plucked out of this world.  For יתומה/orphaned his children will be left orphaned.

On the other hand, it is very important to teach your children to say אמן.  We know from tradition that from a time a child starts saying אמן, he is now destined for eternal life.  It is important to teach them both to say אמן and its importance.  One of the main ways you do that is to diligently answer אמן to their brachos... but only from the time they have reached the age where they are educable (different for each child, but around 5/6 years).  Moreover, Chazal tell us that that the one who says אמן to another Jew's bracha has expressed a greater sanctification of HaShem's name than the one who actually made the bracha.

Really?  What's the big deal?  I mean, sure, I am supposed to having the right intentions (as discussed in a prior TftD... and the Shulchan Aruch and other places, I suppose...), but the worst is that I am being insincere, right?  Well... yes... but what kind of insincerity are you expressing in that case?

The Shulchan Aruch says that saying אמן should take as long as it takes to say ק-ל מלך נאמן/G-d is a Faithful/Loyal King.  Why?  Because that is actually what אמן means.  Saying אמן is, therefore, not just a nice way to participate in services, it is actually an opportunity to make a literal Kiddush HaShem.  The אמן is in many ways part and parcel and a triumphant conclusion to the bracha.  The Mishna Brura even notes that you should say אמן loud enough for the one who made the bracha to hear you, because that allows him to participate in your אמן.

Pretty cool, no?

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