Ethics

For the week ending 27 May 2006 / 29 Iyyar 5766

Saying a Blessing Aloud

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: The other week I attended a memorable event in Jerusalem sponsored by the Derech Institute on the importance of answering “Amen” to blessings. When taking a coffee-break in the office where I work I would like to make my blessing aloud, as that evening stressed one should do, but I am afraid that there are some non-observant Jewish co-workers who will not respond with Amen and I will be guilty of causing them to sin. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: Although the author of a contemporary halachic work advised saying the blessing quietly in such a case, the opinion of Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein, rav of the Ramat Elchanan community in Bnei Brak, is that you should say it aloud. In his classic Aleinu Leshabeiach he makes the following points that directly relate to your question:

  1. If any of the people hearing your blessing will answer Amen you should definitely say it aloud in order to provide them with the opportunity.
  2. Even if no one will thus respond, it is still worthwhile saying the blessing aloud because doing so serves as a sanctification of the Name of G-d.
  3. The only time you should refrain from saying a blessing aloud is if there is a hostile listener who will exploit your action to mock religious observance.

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