May 30, 2012

I’m travelling this week so just a short dvar Torah now that we are all together in the Torah reading cycle and to keep us together!

In Numbers 5:22 we read that the officiating kohen warns the woman suspected of adultery: these cursed waters will enter your innards and cause your stomach to extend and your thigh to collapse! And the woman shall respond ” Amen, amen.”

The Mishna (Sotah 2:5) asks why does she say, amen aman (twice)? It gives three possible answers. One amen on the curse and one amen on the oath.
One amen for this man with whom she was suspected and another amen to cover any other man!
Rabbi Meir says: one amen that I did not defile myself and one amen that I will not defile myself.

There is a question that arose in the laws of prayer. Sometimes it happens that a person needs to answer amen on two things. Supposing you are standing between two people, one makes a blessing on his Tallis and the other on hisctefillin simultaneously. Should you say amen, amen or will one suffice?
This question was already addressed to Rabbi Jacob Hagiz the author of responsa Halachot Ketanot.

He tried to bring a proof from our verse. On the surface it would seem that it is insufficient to answer one amen for two different items. For he woman had to answer amen for the curse and amen for the oath.

However, he rejects this as a proof and concludes that one amen is enough. Having said that, he writes that if you did say amen twice that is ok. The second one is not in vain but is good.

Nowadays, this question mostly arises in large synagogues where people say Kaddish in unison. One amen will suffice for all the kaddishes that are being said.

Shabbat shalom

Rabbi Meir Wise


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