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Dec 27, 2010

Interesting Psak: Amen Parties

A common new minhag is the Amen Party. That is where a group of people get together, usually a group of women, and set out different food items. They then take turns going around the tabel making brachos on the foods and everyone else responding amen. The Amen Party is meant to generate merit, by answering so many amens in groups, and effect God's good graces in granting success, wealth, parnassa, shidduchim, having children, etc. You name the problem and the Amen Party will solve it. I don't know if there is any documented success, but the groups of people at least try it.

I don't know what can really be wrong with it, even if the women made it up. They are simply making brachos and answering amen. It seems silly to me to come up with these things, but "whatever floats your boat" as they say.

Rav Dov Lior, the Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Arba, was asked his opinion about Amen Parties. Rav Lior responded that there is no source for such a thing, and we don't find in the words and writings of Chaza"l that they held such things as Amen Meals or Amen Parties. That being the case, one should be wary and cautious of such parties, and stay away.

Rav Lior said that the passuk of "Lo Sassuru" - not turning after your own hearts desires includes not making up new ways to serve God. If it is not found in Chaza"l, one should be wary. (source: Srugim)

13 comments:

  1. Not only doesn't it have basis, but it can in fact be harmful.

    If someone eats a food that he otherwise wouldn't want to eat, for a purpose other than hana'ah (sustenance, enjoyment, etc), then there is a machloket whether that food deserves a bracha (think pills with sugar coatings).

    These women shouldn't put themselves into a situation of a safek bracha, and in that zchut, they'll get what they're praying for (do they pray too or just do the amen thing?).

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  2. don't make up halachaDecember 27, 2010 4:47 PM

    That's stupid. There's no safek brachos when you eat food at such a party. They're not popping pills, they are eating enjoyable foods. That requires a bracha, Rabbi Jenny.

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  3. I'm not sure who you are or why you're so upset with me (or upset in general?), but that's simply not the case.

    I don't think you're arguing on the halakha, as you don't make such an argument (though you wouldn't know that from your moniker or your snide comment at the end). It appears that you are arguing on the metziyut of what is going on at these parties.

    I know for a fact that there are women who go to these parties, and have no interest at all in eating these foods. They do it solely for the bracha.

    If you choose to respond with a real halakhic argument, you can add an apology for the way you spoke to me.

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  4. I only went to one of these such parties, and felt rather uncomfortable with the central emphasis on segula rather than good ol' time religion.

    When you read the Amen books it seems like some people get a revived fervor for their observance through the topic, which becomes a topic unto itself - what is a constructive vs. problematic method for rekindling one's religious fervor.

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  5. but "whatever floats your boat" as they say.

    But this also can be damaging. As often happens, the "nonsense" practices become ingrained in a certain society, then take on the mantle of a local custom, then sometimes become more widespread, and very often becomes confused with actual halacha. And it often leads to other nonsense, think of the guy who drops his borsalino (hat) and upon picking it up, kisses it as he would do with a dropped sefer.

    So, yes, amen parties can be harmful. Not initially, but think in 3 or 4 generations when women do it regularly and it has become a religious requirement (akin to davening) ... because their ancestors did it.

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  6. And it often leads to other nonsense, think of the guy who drops his borsalino (hat) and upon picking it up, kisses it as he would do with a dropped sefer.

    Mark, have you actually witnessed this?? I asked the relevant members of my family if they have seen this, and they have not.

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  7. My son learned he needs to kiss his kipa when it falls off - from his 3 year old ganenet. He's 5 now, I'm trying to figure out how and when to break it to him....

    think in 3 or 4 generations when women do it regularly and it has become a religious requirement

    Years and years ago, before anyone was doing it, someone asked Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky about starting a daily Tehillim group as a Bikur Cholim service. And Rav Kaminetzky said absolutely not! He said that women have enough chiyuvim for prayer and that daily Tehillim in someone's zechus would become an extra - and inappropriate - daily chiyuv. (The teller of the story didn't go ahead with her group, but obviously not everyone heard of the psak....)

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  8. I think you should all read the Amen book. There are many beautiful stories that are quite inspirational.

    These Amnen partie are fabulous. One thing people pick up is to try to say their brochos aloud in general which the Mishna Berura and others say is a good thing because it adds kavanah. I don't think anyone thinks these replace davening. Rather, they are a way of raising awareness about Amen and they are a way to add more zechuyos by answering more Amens. The Amen book lists many many sources from Rishonim and classical Achronim about the pluses of answering amen with kavanah, and how each amen creates a mal'ach of zechus in shamayim (the Rishonum say that).
    And obviously there is no halachic problem with the brochos since the foods are enjoyable.

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  9. what does it matter if it was tradition or not? How in the world can it be harmful???
    I have been to a number of Amen gatherings, and whether or not the segulah works, it can be such a great support for the people there.
    Each Bracha relates to a certain topic.
    For instance, one bracha is connected to children... when we go around the room and discuss our children, and pray for them, their success and their health, then it is a greater tefilah because others are sharing in the tefillah.
    The opportunity that we had to pray with and for a friend that couldnt have children for 7 years had one the next year.
    (We also got 40 women to take challah)
    Its not just about saying Amen.
    BY THE WAY... It is a great way to get children to learn their Berachot.
    So what is harmful to others, actually aided me in Kavannah, Tefilah, and my Berachot.

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  10. If people would stop being superstitious about their Judaism, we wouldn't have "Amen parties".

    But it's a superstition that people seem to enjoy, so that's worth something.

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  11. I wonder if rather than amen parties, tznius gatherings, kashrus witch hunts and the like we would take on a more productive goal.

    Honoring,respecting and loving each other.

    How much more nachas would HKBH have from us of we TRULY lived and let lived.

    If our rabbonim would instruct us to understand and respect others even though their customs might differ.

    To respect other Jews even if they wear a different type of kippa (or no kippa at all).

    To truly believe (not just lip service) that "eilu v'eilu Divrei Elokim Chaim".

    It is time to realize that our community is moving in a direction that won't tolerate Jews of different stripes.

    Kashrus, tzniyus, brand of hat, Mehadrin buses, etc. are becoming the focus of much of the population.

    While some of this is important we lose sight of the fact that HaShem put us on this Earth to get along, respect and love one another.

    The bitul, hatred and lack of kavod for others plays no part in the world that HaShem envisions.

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  12. When I told my husband about these parties, he raised a real halachik point.
    Theoretically, according to halacha, if many people are eating together , then one person should make the bracha and be motzi everyone else. (Think kiddush, hamotzi on shabbos)To do otherwise is in some way a "bracha levatala", saying Hashem's name in vain.
    We aren't normally noheg this way but to make many many brochos where one would suffice, just for the sake of saying the brocha might be halachikly wrong.

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  13. These are not a "women's thing" nor are they new. About fifteen years ago I was asked to come to one after maariv in a sephardic synagogue in Jerusalem. I think that someone was ill. Almost all of those in attendance were religious Sephardic men. I had never seen it before and have never been at one since then.

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