Answering Amen before Krias Shema

I daven in the morning in a Beis Medrash which allows the Shliach Tzibbur to daven in their own Nusach, with a few “universal” compromises.

For example:

  • There is always a gap in time to enable those (Ashkenaz and Sefard) who say Baruch Hashem Lo’Olom before Shmoneh Esreh at Ma’ariv to do so
  • Tachanun is said in a way to accomodate those (Ashkenaz) who fall immediately onto their arm and not start with Ashamnu, by leaving the parts from Ashamnu until then said quietly.
  • Yehalelu is said immediately after Hagba but before Ashrei at Shacharis (with no loud U’Venucho Yomar)

It is well known that there are three practices in respect of the Bracha immediately before Krias Shema at Shacharis and Ma’ariv.

  • Chazan says the Bracha in its entirety out loud, and the Kahal say that Bracha word for word with the Chazan, and so they don’t answer Amen
  • Chazan says the Bracha in its out loud, and the Kahal answer Amen
  • Chazan breaks off that Bracha at the end by reciting it inaudibly (Chabad)

Now, I say the Bracha out loud, as Chazan.

The issue is briefly sourced in Brachos 45b.

Sefardi Rishonim consider it fine to answer Amen after your own Bracha (eg Rambam Brachos 1:16). Ashkenazi Rishonim, such as Rabbenu Tam (see Shulchan Aruch OC 215:1, 188:1,2) holds that the only Bracha we answer Amen to, even though we say it, is Boneh B’Rachamov Yerushalayim Amen (in Benching).

For the Bracha before Shema, the Rishonim say that since this is the second of the Birchas Krias Shema we do not need to say Amen. Shema is integrated, and the final Bracha (for Shacharis) is Go-al Yisroel. It’s not clear why one couldn’t, however, say Amen. For example, after Yotzer Or U’Voreh Choshech, one may say Amen, and many are careful to do so.

Minhag Chabad is not to say Amen for any of these Brachos. My question is as follows: if you daven according to Minhag Chabad in the Beis Medrash that I daven in, and I say the first of the Birchas Krias Shema out loud, (Yotzer Or U’Voreh Choshech) should you stay silent and choose not to answer Amen to this Bracha? In addition, if the Chazan says “Habocher B’Amo Yisroel Behava” loudly, should you say Amen. Clearly, Chabad Minhag seems concerned about it, because they say the second bracha quietly and don’t say any part of the first Bracah out loud.

So what do Chabad do? Do they simply say no Amen? Do they try to say the Bracha with the Chazan? Does anyone know?

[Apologies I fixed the last sentence … I was a bit off colour yesterday and my last sentence was almost random letters]

Author: pitputim

I've enjoyed being a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia, as well as band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel and later in life at Machon L'Hora'ah, Yeshivas Halichos Olam.

3 thoughts on “Answering Amen before Krias Shema”

    1. One question is someone from Chabad who davens in such a minyan, should they try to say the bracha together with the chazan, should they just silently refuse to answer Amen ….


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