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If someone (me) is going over the leining, is it OK to say "amen" before the aliyah, as is done during the real reading?

I've heard the concept of אמן יתומה - an "orphaned" amen, but understood that to be when someone just says amen because everyone else is, without hearing the bracha itself.

Here, it serves sort of to get into the theme.

However, even during the actual service, it's possible that the baal koreh will get the aliyah, and doesn't answer amen to his own bracha.

Also, does it make a difference if the person is practicing for being the baal koreh, or if they're just learning the parsha?

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I don't know about whether such a practice technique is permissible, but I'd recommend against it for other reasons.

Unfortunately, due to Torah-readers' habit of singing "Amen" as an introduction to their reading, they sometimes end up delaying this response until too long after the blessing it's responding to. (The response is supposed to be "immediate" which we take to mean within a few seconds. See Shulchan Aruch OC 124:8 and Mishna Berura #34 there.) I've seen this happen, typically, due to the reader searching for the place to read after the blessing and not answering "Amen" until he finds the place and is about to read. Practicing "Amen" as part of the reading makes this problem more likely to manifest.

I recommend, instead, a practice method for this "Amen" that is more frequent and therefore more effective, takes no time out of your reading practice time or out of your life in general, and promotes more Halacha-compliant behavior both when you read for the congregation and at other times: Every time you are present for a Torah reading, in any capacity (other than the guy making the blessing, naturally) and you hear the blessing, say "Amen" right after the blessing nicely, singing it the way you would before reading. If you're not the Torah reader, I suggest doing this relatively quietly, so as not to distract people who aren't expecting that tune from anyone other than the reader. I used to do this habitually, and it was effective at keeping me in the habit of saying "Amen" at the right time, when reading and otherwise.

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    Is there any reason the reader must sing the word Amen? Why not just train yourself to always say it quietly – Double AA Oct 31 '14 at 15:57
  • @DoubleAA, I don't know of any reason that the reader must do this or of any source for it being desirable. But people like to do it ("minhag Yisrael"?), so they might as well get used to doing so properly. And saying "Amen" deliberately and audibly is a good thing. – Isaac Moses Oct 31 '14 at 16:00
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    I in fact made that very mistake today. After the oleh said the bracha, i lost the place, and delayed the amen a bit longer than i should have. – Scimonster Nov 1 '14 at 19:22
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    @DoubleAA when I was learning trope I was taught to lein the "amen" as a way of grounding myself musically, because it has the same melody as one of the tropes (so that helps you not start too high or low for the first real trope, I guess). I suspect that this was mainly a way of aiding beginners; I know I don't need it now, for instance. – Monica Cellio Nov 2 '14 at 2:28
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אמן יתומה typically means waiting too long to respond to Amen after berachah has been given. I think your case is similar to אמן יתומה since it is an Amen which is not connected to any berachah. The focus of your Amen during a real aliyah is that you are sharing the beracha with the oleh. Originally, each oleh read his own aliyah, and so he said a beracha and then read. You are the shaliach of the oleh, so it is important to focus on his beracha and say amen to him. (Even more originally, there was only one beracha before and after the entire reading). Personally, I wouldn't worry about practicing amen, and just focus on practicing the leining -- and assume you'll do it right.

Also, my rabbi once told me that if I delayed too long saying amen to the oleh's berachah, it would be better not to say it at all, and just start leining. So practicing saying Amen might get you more accustomed to connecting the Amen to the leining and not to the berachah.

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"Amen" is not necessarily a word attached to a bracha - i.e. - ones starting with "Baruch atah Hashem...". Some examples:

  • When you are practicing laining parshat Ki Tavo, and you read Devarim 27:15-26, you are saying "Amen" 11 times.

  • Have you answered "Amen" when someone gives you a bracha (e.g. - a rebbe or friend wishes you and your family long life)?

If you are saying "Amen" in these situations, I don't see that saying "Amen" while you practice laining should be a problem, in any situation.

With regard to your concern that "sometimes the ba'al kri'a gets the aliyah", I hear you, having been a Ba'al Kri'a, myself. I occasionally get an aliyah, and I sometimes make that mistake - not the worst thing that can happen. Personally, I wouldn't worry about this, as your being called for aliyah is probably a small percentage of the time. If you do get called, daily, e.g. - you're the only Cohen, then, chances are, you've developed the habit of knowing NOT to say it, anyway.

Suggestion, that I've heard from a Rav who is also a frequent B'al Kri'ah: Don't say "Amen" out loud, as it gives listeners the impression that the word "Amen" is part of what's in the Torah, when in fact, "Amen" appears in the Torah only 13 times. (You can verify this, and edit if I'm wrong.) Same idea applies when saying "Chazak, chazak, v'nitchazek" - Look away from the Torah when you say it.

  • I searched it, and found אמן fifteen times in chumash. – Shokhet Nov 2 '14 at 4:24

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