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September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
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Silent Berachot


Cohen-Rabbi-J-Simcha

Question: When called to the Torah for an aliyah, may one recite the berachot silently?

Answer: Contrary to the custom of many, it is not halachically proper to say the berachot silently.

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 284:3) states that one should be attentive and answer Amen to the berachot of Keriat HaTorah and the Haftarah so that one gets credit for saying the necessary 100 daily berachot. The Mishnah Berurah (Orach Chayim 284:5) notes that accordingly it is a mitzvah for someone who receives an aliyah to recite the berachot aloud so that the congregation can respond Amen.

The Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chayim 284:12) writes similarly that it is an obligation (“chovah”) for those who receive an aliyah to recite the berachot aloud in order for the congregation to be able to respond Amen. In fact, he rules that “go’arim bo” – we express anger at those who recite the berachot silently.

Despite these rulings, many congregations allow people to say the berachot silently. It is surprising that they are not corrected and told that “lo zu haderech,” such is not proper.

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Question: When called to the Torah for an aliyah, may one recite the berachot silently?

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I entered the room and saw the body. There were also two men in the room. When they saw me, one asked, “Are you Stan’s son?” I was silent. “I guess you are,” he said, “You look like he probably did.” And then he floored me. “Do you want to identify the body?” The words hit me like a ton of bricks. How could I identify the body of a man who walked out of my life 42 years ago? Would he look anything like the millions of images I conjured up over the years? Would he look like a devil? A demon? I had stopped believing in him when I was about 16. He was a phantom who appeared every now and then in conversation. He got me into a good college – writing about him in my application essay had generated some sympathy.

Dear Mom and Dad,

Yes, I am addressing you both in the same sentence, because even though you are divorced, to me you are still Mom and Dad. I just want you both to know how much I love you. Things have been really crazy and I need to get a few things off my chest. You being divorced has really been hard on me. I remember how you argued so much that most of the time I parented myself. I was so scared … When you fought, I felt so invisible.

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