Vol 35.34 - Vayechi 2 Spanish French Audio Video
(5750) Siyum tractate Nazir - Explanation of the debate whether it is better to bless or it is greater to answer Amen etc.
1. We learn at the end of Tractate Nazir (66b):
“Rav said to his son Chiya: Snatch and quickly recite a blessing” (חטוף ובריך).
(Snatch the cup of blessing for the Grace after Meals and bless Birkat HaZimun
(Note: Birkat HaZimun is the responsive introductory blessing to Grace after Meals when three or more men eat bread together)
in order to fulfill (to precede to make the) blessing the Zimun (grace) on a cup – Rashi).
And similarly, Rav Huna said to his son, Rabbah: Snatch and quickly recite a blessing.
The Talmud asks: Is this to say that one who recites a blessing is preferable (to one who answers amen)? But isn’t it taught in a Beraita that R’ Yosi says: The one who answers amen is greater than the one who recites the blessing? And R’ Nehorai said to him: By Heaven, it is so. Know that this is true. For the ordinary soldiers (gulyarim – weak ones - Rashi) battle in the war and the mighty ones follow and gain the victory.
(Note: The amen that follows a blessing is compared to the mighty who join the war after the soldiers, illustrating that answering amen is more significant than reciting the initial blessing).
The Talmud responds: This is a dispute between Tannaim, as it is taught in a Beraita: Both the one who recites a blessing and the one who answers amen are implied (in the verse - Ps. XXXIV, 3, 'O magnify the L-rd with me, and let us exalt His name together'. - Rashi).
Nevertheless, one hastens to recite the blessing first (in order to give reward (his reward) – Rashi).
From the plain wording of the Talmud it appears that Tannaim dispute whether the one who recites the blessing (the Mevoreich) is better or whether the one who answers amen (the Oneh) is better. The Amoraim (Rav and Rav Huna) who say “Snatch and bless” decide according to the view of the Tanna who maintains, “the one who recites the blessing is better”. This view is ruled as Halacha in the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch - that one should endeavor to bless.
According to this, we do not rule as Halacha that, “The one who answers amen is greater than the one who recites the blessing”.
The commentators have already asked, from that which the Tur cites as Halacha, in the law of one who snatches a Mitzvah from his fellow, where he must give him ten gold coins as recompense -
(Note: for example, if one is about to cover the blood after Shechita with dust (Kisui dam) and another snatches the Mitzvah and covers it first).
that if one gave his son to a person to circumcise him, and another preceded the person and circumcised him instead, we do not obligate him to pay. For “since his answered ‘amen’, we say
Thus, we find that the rulings of the Tur contradict each other.
The Magen Avraham answers, that the Tur’s words concerning the law of snatching a Mitzvah (חטיפת מצוה), “are not (actually) the Tur’s words, as the Beit Yosef writes there”. And although this Halacha in the Tur has its source in many of the Rishonim (and it is so ruled in the Rama) – this is because the law is true, even according to the Tanna who states,
“Both the one who recites a blessing and the one who answers amen are implied”.
For from this wording itself, it is understood that,
“one who answers has reward, just like the one who blesses. Rather, they disagree whether one rushes to bless first ”.
And since, according to all, the one who answers has reward, like the one who blesses - if so, he does not lose out at all. The Shach also writes so (as the Magen Avraham cites there).
However, this is seemingly not apparent from the words of the aforementioned Rishonim, who plainly state the reason of the Halacha that, “The one who answers amen is greater than the one who recites the blessing”.
From their plain wording, it appears that they maintain, that this is so ruled in Halacha.
The Madanei Yom tov (R’ Yom Tov Sanger) writes:
“Although we say that this is a matter between Tannaim, it is not said with regard to dispute, but rather that we find that there is a Tanna who supports Rav and Rav Huna, who learn that one should hasten to bless etc. Therefore, they are the ones who said to their sons, ‘snatch and bless’ to hasten the blessing upon them. However, not that they dispute R’ Yosi who says ‘The one who answers amen is greater etc.’ For R’ Nehorai explains it with a valid reason. However, both their words are true. The one who answers is great since he is victorious and completes the matter. However, just as the one who blesses precedes the one who answers, so too, reward is hastened (to him) before the one who answers. And Rav and Rav Huna were concerned in hastening reward, and were not concerned about who is greater etc.”.
However, even this is seemingly difficult. For from the plain wording, “Both the one who recites a blessing and the one who answers amen are implied” – it appears that both are equal even with regard to the greatness of the reward. Whereas, according to the words of the Madanei Yom Tov, according to all, “The one who answers amen is greater than the one who recites the blessing”. Moreover, the entire benefit of the one who blesses is just in the hastening of the reward.
Therefore, it appears, that it is somewhat different:
Namely, that according to all, there is a detail in which the virtue of the one reciting the blessing is greater, and there is a detail in which, “the one who answers amen is greater than the one who recites the blessing”.
This is what the Tanna means by, “Both the one who recites a blessing and the one who answers amen are implied” – that they are equal in their reward.
For each one has a virtue and greatness that the other does not have (and they are equal) – “Nevertheless, one hastens to recite the blessing first”.
For the essence (תוכן) of the virtue of the one who recites the blessing causes that his reward precedes . Due to this itself, one should endeavor to bless.
(However, since even the one who answers has an equal reward, when one snatches a blessing, he does not lose out at all, that he should have to pay the other because of it, as aforementioned in the Magen Avraham).
2. This can be understood by prefacing an explanation in the matter of, “The one who answers amen is greater than the one who recites the blessing”, for it is seemingly puzzling:
How is it possible to say that one who just “agrees” to the words of the Mevoreich and answers “amen”, should be greater than the Mevoreich himself? Especially, since the entire aspect of answering amen is not possible without the prefacing of the blessing through the Mevoreich.
And although R’ Nehorai brings a parable to this from the “mighty who are victorious”, and as Tosafot states, that (the mighty are victorious refers to) “the victory of the war is accredited to the cavalry that complete it ”. The same is in our case. Namely, that the “completion of the blessing is the answering of amen”.
Nevertheless. this itself requires a reason:
For although answering amen is the “completion of the blessing”, nevertheless, what is the comparison between “the completion of the blessing” to the aspect of the victory of the war through the mighty?
For although one can understand the parable of the war. That although the main war is conducted through the “foot soldiers”, nevertheless, since the main purpose of the war is to conquer the enemy, Therefore, the primary aspect is the “cavalry that complete it ”, and brings the actual victory.
However, in the aspect of a blessing - the primary aspect is the one who actually recites the blessing (with G-d’s name and sovereignty - בשם ומלכות). Therefore, why should the answering of amen (even though he completes it) be greater than the Mevoreich?
There are some commentators who explain:
“Since we rule that “One who hears is as if he answers” . . if so, when one answers amen, his reward is greater than the Mevoreich himself. For the Mevoreich is prohibited from answering amen to his own blessing. A similar instance, is . . whoever prays silently and afterwards hears the prayer from the Chazan and has intent and answers amen to each blessing, is as if he has prayed three times”.
In other words, the one answering amen has two virtues –
As opposed to one reciting the blessing, who does not have the virtue of answering amen, since it is prohibited for him to answer after his blessing.
This is even more appealing according to the Tzafnat Paneach’s commentary on Rambam, on the explanation of Rambam’s words:
“Whoever answers amen after the one reciting the blessing, is like the one who recites the blessing”.
In other words, this is because “answering amen is like one who utters something from his mouth”. This is like we find regarding an oath, that the one who answers amen after the one making the oath, is as if he is swearing himself. Therefore, Rambam rules that even if one answers amen after the oath of a non-Jew, or a minor – it is considered an oath.
Since answering amen is “as if he utters a blessing from his mouth”, if so, he is exactly like the Mevoreich himself.
(One could add even more to this, according to what the Tzafnat Paneach writes in another place, regarding “the oath of a kohen” (in Sotah):
“One must specifically say amen . . even though with other oaths, acceptance with another phrase is also sufficient”.
He explains, that regarding Sotah, one specifically requires the oath of a kohen (for if she herself swears, it does not help, at all).
Therefore, “with a Sotah, one specifically requires the answering of amen, for this is as if she is evoking the specific power of the one who swears ” (שמוציאה הכח הפרטי של המשביע). Thus, we find that the through answering amen, in addition to that which, it is as if he emitted the blessing from his mouth, more than this, he possesses the “specific power of the Mevoreich ”).
According to this, one can explain the dispute whether the “Mevoreich is better” or “the one who answers amen is greater than the one who recites the blessing”-
For one could say that they argue whether answering amen over a blessing is like answering amen after an oath - where it is as if he utters the oath from his mouth.
3. However, it is difficult to explain as such, the reasoning of the one who maintains, “The one who answers amen is greater etc.”. For in the Talmud, it expressly states the reason of this view, that it is like
“ordinary soldiers that battle in the war and the mighty one’s gaining the victory”.
From this it appears that the virtue of the one who answers amen over the one who recites the blessing is not because he (also) possesses the virtue of the Mevoreich, but rather because the virtue of answering amen, in and of itself , is greater than the virtue of reciting the blessing, like the parable of the “mighty one’s gaining the victory” over the “ordinary soldiers that battle”.
On the other hand:
In the Alter Rebbe‘s Shulchan Aruch he explains:
“Moreover, every person should endeavor to be given the cup of blessing . . For although ,“one who listens is considered as one who makes a statement” and “one who responds Amen is considered as one who utters a blessing from his mouth ”. Nevertheless, (G‑d) hastens (and) first gives a reward to the one who recites Grace.”
Thus, it is clear, that the aspect of answering amen being “as one who utters a blessing from his mouth”, also pertains to the view that reciting the blessing is better.
The explanation of this appears to be:
Regarding answering amen, the Talmud states:
(The term) “amen” (posseses):
as it is written: “Amen, may the L-rd do so; may the L-rd uphold your statement” (Jeremiah 28:6).
As Rashi states, “There is an element of confirmation of the statements, and it is proper to answer amen on the words of prayer and supplication, which is an expression of faith in the words, that it should be His will that it be truthfully so”.
This essence of “confirmation of the statements” seemingly applies, just to “words of prayer and supplication” (like Rashi’s words). However, in the blessings of thanks and praise, or the blessings of Mitzvot, which do not contain “prayer and supplication”, the answering of amen for the purpose of “confirmation of the statements”, is just (in the Tur’s words) that “The blessing that the Mevoreich made is true and I have faith in it”.
The difference between them is not just in the intent of the answerer (כוונת העונה), but in the essence of the scope of answering amen (בעצם גדר עניית אמן) and its relation to a blessing:
Since answering amen after “prayer and supplication” means, that even the one who hears is praying “that it should be His will that it be truthfully so”, we find that answering amen is related to the prayer of the one praying himself, for the answerer joins in his prayer.
Whereas, the answering amen after blessings of thanks etc., whose aspect is just that the one who hears conveys his faith regarding the truth of the words of the Mevoreich, the response is not related to the Mevoreich
(for since he is reciting the blessing, it is understood that he believes in it).
Rather, this is a law and obligation on the one who hears . For when one hears a blessing from others, an obligation rests upon him to assent that the words are true. However, this does not add to the Mevoreich (and his blessing).
This is the innovation of the Tanna who maintains, “The one who answers amen is greater etc.”. For in the Talmud, he cites it regarding Birkat HaMazon, and he brings the parable of “ordinary soldiers battle in the war and the mighty one’s follow and gain the victory”. For he maintains that even answering amen after blessings of thanks etc. is a part of the act of the blessing (פעולת הברכה). On the contrary, it completes the act of the blessing, similar to “the mighty one’s gaining victory”, as the Rosh states, that “ the completion of the blessing is the answering of amen”.
The reasoning of the matter is as is explained by the Maharsha who writes:
“Therefore, G-d commanded one who eats and is satiated to bless Him . . for through this, G-d bestows His blessing that he should have abundant food. For a person has accusers (מקטרגים) in the matter, who oppose giving him his harsh sustenance with abundance. However, the blessings are honest counsel and good advocates (המליצים יושר וסנגורים טובים) to oppose the accusers. For this, the blessing and the answering of amen is compared to “ordinary soldiers battling and the mighty one’s gaining victory”, for it is exactly as it states. For the blessings are the foot-soldiers and the answering of amen are the mighty one’s gaining victory in the war against the accusers who are the angels of destruction (מלאכי משחית) etc.”
Therefore, “The one who answers amen is greater etc.” For even the answering of amen after Birkat HaMazon is related to the act of the blessing. For the intent of the blessing is to draw down one’s livelihood. And the answering of amen nullifies the accusers and completes the “war” against them. Therefore, we find, that the answering of amen is considered like the “completion of the blessing” and consequently it is better than the Mevoreich himself
(and like the virtue of the “mighty one’s gaining victory”)
that “the victory of the war is accredited to the cavalry that complete it ”.
4. However, according to this, one must examine the reasoning of the Tanna who maintains that Mevoreich is better. For seemingly according to the aforementioned, one must say that he maintains that answering amen after Birkat HaMazon is just the conveying of faith that “the blessing that the Mevoreich made is true”.
(Like answering amen after all blessings of thanks and praise, and blessings over Mitzvot),
and it is not related to the act of the blessing itself. Rather it is an independent obligation that rests on the one who hears (as aforementioned). Therefore, he maintains that the Mevoreich is better.
However, if one wishes to say so, one Halacha challenges another Halacha (קשה הלכתא אהלכתא). For we rule that one must endeavor specifically to make the blessing (as aforementioned Par. 1). Yet together with this, the Halacha is decided that a person breaking bread, may not partake of his loaf until the majority of the people responding (to his blessing) conclude the recitation of Amen”.
The reason for this is (as Rashi states) that:
“even answering amen is from the blessing”.
This is also ruled so in the Rama, that just as the diners must have intent to hear the blessing and to answer amen - so too, “the Mevoreich must have intent to the amen that they are saying (יכוין לאמן שאומרים)”. “Because answering amen is part of the blessing”.
Thus, even the one who answers amen after the HaMotzei blessing on bread is considered a part of it, and is necessary even to the Mevoreich .
Therefore, it appears that according to all, answering amen over all types of blessings are a part of the blessing itself. For answering amen is related to the act of the blessing. And as is explained in the Rishonim, that the
“Mevoreich is compared to a signed contract that has not been verified by Beit Din, and one can contest it. Yet after it is verified, no one may contest it. “Amen” is the upholding of the conclusion of the blessing (קיום חתימת הברכה) as we find . . “and the woman shall say, "Amen, amen."” toאמונה affirm that which the Kohen is adjuring her”.
This fits with the reason that is cited in the commentators, that the virtue of answering amen is, that since,
“Amen contains three things:
“if so, by one’s answering amen, one accepts the blessing upon him with faith and with an oath ”
In other words, since “one accepts the blessing upon him with faith and with an oath ”, this is a thing that is impossible to nullify, and it is an everlasting thing (דבר של קיימא).
This is not so regarding the Mevoreich who did not accept upon himself the blessing “with faith and with an oath”. Therefore, it is possible that it could be changed in him etc. (אפשר שישתנה אצלו) (like a contract that is contested).
This is more appealing according to what is known, that the inner essence of a blessing is, that through each blessing, an effluence from Above is drawn down (נמשך שפע מלמעלה).
(This is similar to the words of the aforementioned Maharsha regarding the aspect of Birkat HaMazon, that “through this, G-d bestows His blessing”).
Answering amen nullifies the things that hinder and obstruct this effluence, in a manner that, specifically through answering amen, is the effluence drawn down in actuality, without any hindrance or obstruction (similar to the upholding of the document in Beit Din, that nullifies any protest).
According to this, one could say that the two views - whether the Mevoreich is better or whether “The one who answers amen etc.” is better, is dependent upon the well-known distinction (בחקירה הידועה) if we follow “potential” (בכח) or we follow “actual” (בפועל).
According to the aforementioned, it is understood that the act of a blessing is specifically due to the Mevoreich, for he is the one who recites, specifies and reveals, with his blessing, praise for G-d in the world.
(And also in Pnimiyut, the recital of a blessing is that which draws down the effluence from Above).
The act of answering amen is just to remove the hindrance and obstacle.
This is similar to the document in Beit Din, where the collection of funds (and so forth) is in the power of what is expressed in the document , and the aspect of the upholding of the document is just to verify what is expressed in the document .
This is the difference between the Mevoreich and the one who answers amen:
The “potential” (and quality/ ואיכות) of the blessing is specifically with the Mevoreich. However, due to the Mevoreich himself, there is a possibility that it will not come into actuality (due to “protesting”).
This is the accomplishment of the act of answering amen – that through it, the blessing (and the effluence) comes into actuality .
According to this, one could say that this is the intent of the Tanna who states,
“Both the one who recites a blessing and the one who answers amen are implied”.
For both of them are equal (as aforementioned Par. 1). For according to all, in the aspect of the “potential” (בכח) (and quality) of the blessing – the Mevoreich is better.
On the other hand, in the aspect of “actuality” (בפועל)– “The one who answers amen is greater ”.
However, since the entire aspect of the blessing comes specifically through the Mevoreich,
(For without the Mevoreich, the aspect of answering amen is not relevant).
Therefore, “one hastens to recite the blessing first”, as aforementioned Par. 1.
5. According to all the aforementioned, one can explain the relation of this section of the Talmud, concerning the virtue of the Mevoreich and the one who answers amen, to the (completion/Siyum) of Tractate Nazir (as has already been addressed in the commentators):
To preface, it is explained in Tzafnat Paneach on the Torah, regarding Yosef HaTzaddik - that he is called:
“the one who was separated from his brothers” (נזיר אחיו)
There are opinions that “he was an actual Nazir” – that “Nezirut” (the concept of being a Nazir) started with Yosef”.
For Yosef is in the scope of Adam HaRishon before the “splitting” (Nesira - הנסירה) of male and female, where they were both equal”.
This is also the completeness of the holiness of Nezirut. For “Nezirut” has upon it the name of male and female gender together,
(as is explained in the Talmud Yerushalmi Perek 2 regarding one who vows to be a Nazir using the female gender of the word – “Nazira”).
And refers to:
This aspect, the joining of “Mashpia and Mekabel in one instance”
(for this is the completeness of the aspect of Nezirut)
is also the essence of the aspect of a blessing and answering amen, the connection between the two virtues of Mashpia and Mekabel (the Mevoreich and the one who answers amen) as one.
As aforementioned, in the explanation of
“Both the one who recites a blessing and the one who answers amen are implied”,
it is the connection of the virtue of “potential” (on the side of the Mashpia) and “actuality” (on the side of the Mekabel).
According to this, one can also explain the continuation of the Talmud there. For after the debate regarding the virtue of the one who recites a blessing and the one who answers amen, the Talmud concludes,
“R’ Elazar said that R’ Chanina said: Torah scholars increase peace in the world”.
אמר רבי אלעזר אמר רבי חנינא תלמידי חכמים מרבים שלום בעולם
The commentators on the Talmud have already questioned the connection between this statement to the above section. If it is to conclude with a good thing, indeed, even the debate regarding the virtue of the Mevoreich and the virtue of the one who answers amen, is a good thing?
However, according to the aforementioned, one could say that this is an example of the virtue of answering amen - that is causes that the blessing should be drawn down, in actuality, into the world.
The same is in this aspect, that specifically “Talmidei Chachamim”
(in other words, those that receive from the Sages , similar to the answering of amen by the one who hears the blessing – the mekabel)
are those that “increase peace in the world”.
This is why the Talmud specifically concludes with this statement. For since, beforehand, it emphasizes the virtue of the Mevoreich – that although there is a virtue in one, that is not in the other. So much so, that they are equal (as aforementioned, at length), nevertheless “one hastens to recite the blessing first”.
Therefore, one must “snatch and bless”.
Therefore, the Talmud concludes, that nevertheless the purpose of everything is the virtue of the “actuality” – “Talmidei Chachamim increase peace in the world”.
M’Sichas Yud, (Motzai Shabbat Kodesh), Yud-Gimel, and Tet-Vav Shvat 5738