9

Often I have lunch with colleagues, most of whom are not religious (and sometimes some of them are not Jewish). When I say the short blessing before eating, is it better to say it loudly or quietly?

Usually I say blessings loudly, because I feel it creates an "atmosphere" of blessing and thankfulness (and lets the hearers say Amen).

However, since my colleagues are usually engaged in conversations or just in their own thoughts, I feel it might disturb them to hear a blessing.

On the other hand, whispering makes me feel like I have to hide my belief, which is also not a nice feeling.

What is the best option?

  • 2
    The general rule is to not pray loudly when it will disturb others. – mevaqesh Apr 25 '17 at 7:44
  • And also that loudness helps kavana , and at home to daven loud so that you family will know how to pray – hazoriz Apr 25 '17 at 8:44
  • 3
    this is a very beautyful question. I think that there is no one situation but each needs a special touch. – kouty Apr 25 '17 at 10:35
9

The basic obligation is only to recite blessings loud enough that you can hear them, as brought by the Rambam in Mishnah Torah, Hilchos Berachos, Chapter One, the beginning of Paragraph Seven:

כל הברכות כולן צריך שישמיע לאזנו מה שהוא אומר
A person should recite all the blessings loud enough for him to hear what he is saying

However it is often considered worthwhile and praiseworthy to say blessings out loud.

An article on aish.com paraphases Mishnah Berurah 185.3 stating:

it is better to say [a bracha] aloud, as this is extremely helpful in focusing one's concentration.

According to an article on ohr.edu (Ohr Somayach), Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein, Rav of the Ramat Elchanan brought in his work Aleinu Leshabeiach the following points:

  • If any of the people hearing your blessing will answer Amen you should definitely say it aloud in order to provide them with the opportunity.
  • Even if no one will thus respond, it is still worthwhile saying the blessing aloud because doing so serves as a sanctification of the Name of G-d.
  • The only time you should refrain from saying a blessing aloud is if there is a hostile listener who will exploit your action to mock religious observance.

As a counter balance to even this third point, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 1.3 quotes Avot 5.20 explaining:

"Strong like the leopard" means that one must not be ashamed by people who mock his service of the Lord, blessed be His Name.

Lastly, the Jewish blogosphere has many examples of encouragement regarding reciting of blessing out loud, as examples:

Obviously you must judge the situation and decide the best course regarding blessing aloud. I hope the information above helps you decide.


In light of Gavriel's comment I went in search of concurring source material. I found in Ben Ish Hai, Halachot 1st Year, Masei 15:

והזוהר הקדוש החמיר מאוד בעונש השומע ברכה ואינו עונה אמן לכן אם המברך על איזה דבר לעצמו רואה דהשומעין מזלזלים באמן ואין עונין, טוב שיברך בלחש כדי שלא ישמעו הברכה ויבואו לידי מכשול

Which can be roughly translated (by me) as:

The holy Zohar indicates very severe punishment for one who hears a blessing and doesn't respond Amen. Therefore, if the blesser sees the listeners are lax in responding Amen, better he should bless quietly so they don't hear the blessing lest it become an obstacle.

  • 1
    As a counterpoint to the first point brought in the name of Rabbi Zilberstein: I remember seeing in the name of Rav Elyashiv that if you suspect that a listener will not answer amen then it's better to say the bracha quietly since not answer amen is a serious matter with spiritual consequences. – Gavriel Apr 25 '17 at 18:29

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .