11 May ANSWERING “BARUCH HU UBARUCH SHEMO” – “BLESS HIM AND BLESS HIS NAME”
For generations, the Jewish people have been accustomed to answer Baruch Hu uBaruch Shemo (BHUSh) upon hearing the holy name of Hashem. The sefer Divr Shalom Wemet1 brings down the Moroccan minhag (custom) to answer BHUSh to all berachot (blessings), even those with which we are yo (taken out of our obligation). Ribi Yaaqov Baal Haturim (Tur) ztl2 writes that he heard his father Rabenu Asher (Rosh) ztl say BHUSh on every single beracha.3 However, there is much halachic controversy amongst the achamim (sages) regarding this practice and beezrat Hashem (G-d willing) the issues will be explored in great depth.
Origins of Reciting Baruch Hu uBaruch Shemo
The origins of reciting BHUSh come from that which Mosh Rabenu ah said (Devarim 32:3), Ki shem Ado-nai eqra; havu godel lEloh-enu For I will call out the name of Hashem; ascribe greatness to our G-d. Meaning: those listening to the name of Hashem being called out are obligated to ascribe greatness to His name, via the recitation of BHUSh.4 Following this line of reasoning, our azanim nzy have the minhag to lengthen the recitation of Barechu et Ado-nai haMevorach on Friday nights to allow for the congregation to silently recite the Yishtaba Wyitpaar He should be praised and He should be glorified5 Also, since even the names of adiqim need to be blessed, as it is written (Mishl 10:7), Zecher adiq livracha (i.e. ztl) the remembrance of a righteous one brings blessing,6 all the more so we should bless the name of
Hashem when it is mentioned.
The Gemara (Yoma, 77a) explains that on Yom Kipur, when the Kohen Gadol would utter the name of Hashem, the entire nation would answer Baruch shem kevod malchuto leolam waed Blessed is the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever. Maran in the Shulan Aruch7 writes one must recite BHUSh on each and every beracha that one hears in any situation. Therefore, we recite BHUSh whenever the name of Hashem is mentioned. Nonetheless, there are those who hold that the answering of BHUSh does not apply to all instances, as will be explained.
Din Shoma Keon and Hefseq
There are certain instances, such as, shofar, hallel, qidush, Megila, where one is able to listen to someone else make a beracha and be yo (taken out of his obligation). This stems from the concept in halacha of Din Shoma Kon the listener has the same status as the one who recites [the beracha]. That is why by qidush, for example, we have in mind to be yo the beracha over the qidush/wine and we are then able to taste the wine without reciting the beracha ourselves. Keep in mind that this concept does not apply to all blessings. Also, there is the concept of hefseq (interruption) in halacha, where one making a beracha should not make a hefseq in the middle of a beracha or after the completion of a beracha and at the start of the miwa. For example, once someone starts reciting a beracha, one cannot talk in the middle of reciting it. Similarly, after one completed a beracha, one cannot talk until the miwa/action is completed. For example, one who recites a beracha over food, may not talk upon completion of the beracha until he has swallowed some of the food.8 These concepts in halacha serve as the main base for those who oppose the recitation of BHUSh on specific blessings that one wants to be yo from someone else.
Applying These Issues to the Moroccan Minhag
1) The sefer Divr Shalom Wemet9 brings Ribi Shemuel bar Abraham Abuhab ztl10 who holds that one needs to answer BHUSh only on berachot that one is not fulfilling their obligation with. However, if one has the intent to be yo with a particular beracha, then he may not answer BHUSh because of the law of shoma keon. Therefore, since the one hearing is like the one reciting the beracha, answering BHUSh would be a hefseq in the beracha for the listener.
2) Ribi David Pardo ztl11 adds that when one answers BHUSh, they will miss out a few words as the person blessing will continue on with the beracha, and this is highly problematic because how can one be yo the beracha if they did not hear all of the words? Ribi Yehuda Ayash ztl12 also agrees. eH Ribi Ovadya Yosef st13 discusses this in great length and also holds the opinion that BHUSh should not be recited when one is fulfilling his own obligation via this beracha. He brings down the Magen Avraham14 who is also of the opinion that one should not answer BHUSh in a situation where any form of talking would generally constitute a hefseq. Our holy brothers, the Ashkenazim, are even stricter in this matter and not only do they not answer BHUSh on blessings that render them yo, but are of the opinion that even bediavad (after the fact that one has said BHUSh) that beracha would not make them yo.15
Nonetheless, we have the minhag to recite BHUSh without it being considered a hefseq (interruption). The Ben Ish ai ztl16 writes that this minhag is found in a Midrash and in the qawanot (intentions) of the Arizal in his work Peri E aim. Therefore, there is no hefseq (interruption) as BHUSh is decreed by the achamim as part of the beracha. Also, our azanim nzy incorporate into their singing a break to allow for the congregation/listeners to answer BHUSh and this way no one will miss out on any words of the beracha.17 However, eH Ribi Ovadya st worries that this break might be a possible hefseq on its own18 and also brings down Maran haida ztl19 who notes that it is proper to be careful about answering BHUSh. However, Maran haida ztl20 also writes that one should not rebuke one who does answer BHUSh. Furthermore, in his later work21 he writes that he actually never found any logic to prohibit saying BHUSh and that it is everyones minhag to answer BHUSh on any type of beracha. Ribi Refael Baruch Toledano ztl22 also writes that in all of Morocco they had the minhag to answer BHUSh to all berachot. Maran haabif, Ribi aim Palagi ztl,23 writes that it was the minhag in the city of Izmir, Turkey and in all other areas dispersed with Jews to answer BHUSh during qidush on Shabat. Ribi Mesod ai Rokach ztl24 writes that this was the minhag of all Yisrael. Ribi Mochlouf Abiira ztl25 writes that the minhag of the people and all of their ancestors in Tafilalet, Morocco was to answer BHUSh on every beracha. Ribi Yiaq azan ztl26 writes that this was indeed the minhag in all Morocco, as well as in Djerba, Tunisia. Ribi Shalom Messas ztl27 writes that not only is it a minhag to answer BHUS, but it is an obligation. He explains that the law of Shomea Keon is not that the listener is exactly like the one blessing because if this were the case, then the listener should not be allowed to answer Amen either, since it is known that it is considered degrading when one answers Amen after his own beracha28?! Yet we see that the listener does not answer Amen, when really he should not, according to this!? Hence, the law of Shomea Keon extends only enough to take the listener out of his obligation of that beracha (i.e. render him yo) and not to constitute a hefseq at all.
This story is told by eH Ribi Mordechai Eliyahu st29: I was to perform the upa ceremony for the Baba Salis ztl daughter and his then future son-in-law Ribi Yehuda Yudayof ztl. I instructed the atan and kala (bride and groom) to answer Amen to the beracha without answering BHUSh. Baba Sali ztl tapped his cane on the ground and threatened to leave the wedding if BHUSh was not recited because it was the minhag to recite it even for berachot that one is obligated in, such as qidush. Therefore, out of honour to Baba Sali ztl I told the atan to answer BHUSh. When I asked Baba Sali ztl from where he heard this pesaq, he answered, from Sidna Ribi Yaaqov ztl who is buried in Egypt [a.k.a Abir Yaaqob]. I looked in all of Ribi Yaaqovs ztl books and did not find anything on this topic.
One day during the aseret yem teshuva (Rosh odesh Tishr Yom Kipur) I was reading a teshuva (responsum) written by Ribi Yaaqov ztl on the topic of repentance. He wrote that one has to repent even on the things that he/she is unaware of, for example, sometimes a person does not say BHUSh on berachot for miwot that he is obligated in and thus has to repent for this. I showed this to Baba Sali ztl who told me Baruch hamazir aveda lebaaleha! Blessed is the one who returns a lost item to its owner!
1) It is our minhag and obligation to answer BHUSh to all berachot that we hear without worrying about it being a hefseq or about losing out on some of the words of the beracha. With this, it is a concept in halacha not to deviate from ones minhag nor the minhagim of ones forefathers; this concept will be expanded on in an upcoming special edition, beezrat Hashem.
2) eH Ribi Ovadya Yosef st brings down many sources to support that answering BHUSh is only applicable to berachot that one does not have an obligation in. However, one should not answer BHUSh for berachot he is obligated in as it constitutes a hefseq. If one did answer, he is still yo bediavad.
3) Rav Mosh Feinstein ztl, the leading poseq for our holy brothers, the Ashkenazim, holds that one may not answer BHUSh on a beracha that one is obligated in. If one answered BHUSh then it is a hefseq and even bediavad one is not yo with this beracha.
1 eH Ribi Shelomo Toledano st, Divr Shalom Wemet eleq 1 (pp. 152, Baruch Hu uBaruch Shemo)
2 Tur, Ora aim (O) (Siman 124)
3 See Shut haRosh (Klal 4, Siman 19)
4 Shemesh uMagen eleq 2 (OH Siman 34). The exact parameters of this obligation are still to be discussed.
5 eH Ribi Shelomo Toledano st, Divr Shalom Wemet eleq 1 (pp. 153, Baruch Hu uBaruch Shemo); eH Ribi Eliyahou Bitton
st in his sefer Netivot haMaarav brings down that this is also based on Qabala (sod) [pp. 25; Sefer haQawanot pp. 51]
6 Tur, O (Siman 124); Bereshit Rabba (Parasha 49, Siman 1) also states that whomever does not praise a adiq/adeqet when
his/her name is mentioned transgresses a miwat as (positive commandment).
7 O (Siman 124:5)
8 SA, O (Siman 167:6); see Mishna Berura (Siman 167:6 (34), (35))
9 eH Ribi Shelomo Toledano st, Divr Shalom Wemet eleq 1 (pp. 152, Baruch Hu uBaruch Shemo)
10 Shut Devar Shemuel (Siman 295). Italy, 5370-5454 [1609-1693 C.E.]
11 Soshanim leDawid (Berachot 8:8,) [Italy, 1718-1780 C.E.]
12 Mat Yehuda (124, sq 2)
13 Yabia Omer eleq 8 O (Siman 22, ); Yeaw Daat eleq 4 (Siman 9)
14 Rav Avraham Abele Hombiner ztl [c.1633-c.1683 C.E.; Poland] (Siman 124, sq 9)
15 Rav Mosh Feinstein ztl [1895-1986 C.E.; Lithuania/America] in his Shut Igrot Mosh (eleq 2, O, Siman 98). Tosafot
Maas Rav (SA Siman 213:3, ) writes in the name of the Gaon Mivilna (Gra) that the Amen recited at the end covers the
entire beracha and thus one who recites the (unnecessary) BHUSh is making a hefseq.
16 Ribi Yosef aim ztl (the Ben Ish ai) [1832 1909 C.E.; Baghdad, Iraq] in his Shut Rav Pealim (eleq 2, O, 37)
17 eH Ribi Shelomo Toledano st, Divr Shalom Wemet eleq 1 (pp. 155, Baruch Hu uBaruch Shemo)
18 Yabia Omer eleq 8 O (Siman 22, )
19 Birk Yosef (O Siman 213, 3)
21 haidas sefer, Yosef Ome (pp. 92a, Siman 3; on O Siman 124:5)
22 QSA haShalem (Siman 101:5), see there.
23 aim Lerosh; see azon Ovadya eleq 2 pp. 128.
24 His idushim on the Rambam: Maas Rokach (Venezia, year 5502)
25 In his sefer Yaf Shaa (O 19)
26 Yeaw Daat (eleq 1, 13)
27 Shemesh uMagen (eleq 2, O, Siman 34); Or Torah (Kislev 5757, Siman 21); Or Hamaarav (Tevet-Shevat 5751, pp. 24-8);
Also see Shut Ateret Shelomo by eH Ribi Shelomo Dayan st (Siman 6)
28 SA, O (Siman 215:1); See Aruch haShulan: Siman 215:4 who explains that we answer Amen to a beracha to proclaim so it
shall be! However, it is degrading for one to proclaim this to his own beracha for it is like he is [haughty in] attributing his blessing to his own actions/merits.
29 In the weekly bulletin published by eH Ribi Mordechai Eliyahu st, Shiur Qol ofayich (Parashat Qedoshim, 5763). It can also
be found in his sefer Torat Imecha. This story is slightly abbreviated due to space constraints.