Amen

One of the words we repeat the most during religious services is Amen. Amen is translated as: “it is true” or “may it become true” or “so be it.” Amen is found in the Torah only 15 times (11of them in chapter 27 of Deuteronomy) and no more than 30 in the entire Bible. Amen shares its root with the word Emmunah (faith) and its letters (alef, mem, nun) form the acronym אל מלך נאמן (’El melekh ne’eman, “God, trustworthy King)

Even though it has become a very common word, our sages taught that there are five different types of amen. Unbelievable!

1 Amen Chatufa (Snatched Amen)

There are two opinions about what this means. It either means swallowing the vowel when answering Amen (one must articulate the opening alef carefully otherwise it will be considered wrong) or it means answering Amen before the Ba’al Tefilla (the person who leads the service) completes the end of the blessing.

2 Amen Ketufa. (Cut Amen)

There are two opinions about what this means as well. It either means swallowing the letters so the Amen is not articulated clearly. Rashi explains that in this case the final
“nun,” is missing such that the person actually says “Ame”; or it means the Amen is split into two when one pauses in the middle of such that it sounds like two words, i.e. “A… men.” so it is not clearly one word.

3 Amen Yetoma. (Orphaned Amen)

There are two opinions about what this means also. Either it means answering Amen to a blessing, and you did not hear every word of it being recited, or it means a delayed Amen which one answers long after the blessing is finished.  It is orphaned from the
blessing that it is meant to be answering.

4 Amen Ketzara. (Short Amen)

This means the Amen was answered in a quick manner, in a way that gives one reason to think answering Amen is a chore and shows a lack of patience. One should allocate enough time for the Amen as necessary to say El melekh ne’eman.

The fifth Amen is the one we say correctly. One should avoid the four incorrect Amens and say a loud Amen before the leader starts the next blessing.

 

Amen should be recited at certain points during the prayer service. But Jewish law also requires individuals to answer amen whenever they hear a blessing recited, even in a non-liturgical setting.

 

Coming to a service can be intimidating sometimes if you are not familiar with what is going on in it. We may not understand all that is being said but we can definitely be part of the prayer with a good and loud Amen.

 

 

Posted by Rabbi Fabián Werbin

3 comments

Interesting that Christians say A-men too. Wonder where they got it from. Jesus?

Amen, Rabbi Werbin, and thank you again for covering Jewish topics in your posts.

Fascinating the story of the Jews of Palermo.

Leave a Reply to Marilda Cancel reply