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Halacha (Mishna B'rura 57) indicates that a shatz (leader) should not say "amen" to the congragation's "baruch Hashem ham'vorach l'olam vaed" before repeating that line, as the "amen" would be redundant to his repeating the line. AFAICT common practice follows suit.

Yet I think common practice is that the congregation does say "amen" to the shatz's b'racha before Halel, before repeating that b'racha. Why? Is this b'racha different somehow from "baruch Hashem ham'vorach l'olam vaed"? Or is this simply an error?

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Doesn't the Rama say (or perhaps the M"B) that there was a minhag for bircot hashachar where each individual says the berachot, everyone says amen to each, and then someone else begins this process anew? Perhaps this is comparable. –  Baal Shemot Tovot Apr 15 '12 at 1:05
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2 Answers

We see in many places that if one finishes a bracha before the shatz that he should say amen and that is recommended (SA OC 51:1,59:4. Saying amen prior to finishing the bracha is debated, but only due to the interruption.

A possible reason for the distinction between the cases is that saying amen to my friends bracha is seconding my friend's bracha. This is usually independent of my own blessing. I second my friend's hallel bracha, and I make my own bracha as well.

But by barchu, where the shatz commands the congregation to bless G-d, any generic blessing fulfills my obligation. By answering amen and seconding my friend's blessing, I effectively fulfill my obligation to this generic blessing. So why should I do that twice?

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+1: the distinction in your second and third paragraphs seems to make some sense. I don't, however, see the relevance of your first. –  msh210 Apr 18 '12 at 3:00
    
@msh210, in your question you seemed to have place the halachic weight on the barchu side and asked about hallel. My first paragraph was to set up the question not on hallel, but on barchu, since the amen to hallel halacha is found by many other sources. –  YDK Apr 19 '12 at 16:16
    
But your first paragraph is about if you say a b'racha before the shatz, not after him, which is what my question is about. I agree that if someone repeats a b'racha after you, you should say "amen": my question was about saying "amen" and then immediately repeating the thing you just "amen" to. –  msh210 Apr 19 '12 at 16:23
    
@msh210, that's a clearer case, but the MB you brought discusses both scenarios. I referred to amen then bracha in my last sentence where the halacha is the same if not for the hefsek issue. I can look soon for inside sources to support that. –  YDK Apr 19 '12 at 16:31
    
The Mishna Berura in 51:1 (link above) implies that saying amen during the bracha is a hefsek issue. Also, he restricts the issue to saying amen during the actual bracha, but from baruch sheamar to baruch shemo he permits since it's "just praise". So the MB seems to have no problem of saying amen right before he is about to say the exact same bracha. (I realize it isn't the greatest proof since it is not beyond the MB to quote halachos without regard to how they relate to other halachos he has quoted. –  YDK Apr 19 '12 at 19:12
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According to R' Soloveitchik, one should not answer Amen to the shatz's bracha on Hallel because of the issue you've raised. There seems to be a difference between birchos ha-mitzva and other brachos in this regard. The other case where it comes up is the bracha on sefiras ha-omer. (I don't have any source on hand for this, but I've heard it in R' Soloveitchik's name from multiple people.)

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Thanks for this answer and welcome to the site. I hope you stick around and enjoy it. –  msh210 Apr 18 '12 at 15:19
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