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Monday, 1 December 2014

The Power of Amen

Daf Yomi Yevamos 58

Every morning, we recite a number of blessings, one after another, where we thank the Almighty for providing us with everything from sight, to the ability to walk, to clothing and much, much more.  Sadly, few people actually make the effort to be in shul on time for the morning blessings.

‘I’ll just say it myself at home.’

Our Rabbis have taught us that that’s not good enough.  Even if you’ve said the blessings on your own, there’s a special merit associated with saying Amen to someone else’s blessings.  Hence, we have the practice of having the chazzan recite the blessings aloud for all to answer Amen. 

What’s so special about Amen?

Concerning the sotah, the wife suspected of infidelity, the Torah states, “And the cohen shall adjure her and say to the woman:  If a man has not lain with you and you have not strayed in defilement with someone other than your husband, then be proven innocent by these bitter waters. . . And the woman shall respond: Amen, Amen.”

The Mishnah in Tractate Sotah asks: Why does she repeat Amen, Amen?
The meaning of her response is: Amen that I did not stray when I was merely betrothed and Amen that I did not stray when I was completely married.

The Talmud teaches us that the word Amen is an acronym spelling the phrase, ‘G-d is a trustworthy King.’  Why should the sotah respond with the acknowledgment of G-d as a trustworthy king? 

Our Sages explain that a person does not stray (tisteh) unless a ‘spirit of folly’ (ruach shtus) enters into them.  What is the nature of this folly?   One strays thinking that the pleasure I am going to experience now is worth it.  But if you were to think about the trustworthiness of the Almighty to repay you with pleasure beyond your wildest imagination for overcoming your desire to stray, you wouldn’t entertain the thought of sinning! 

That’s why the best deflection of sin and temptation is ‘Amen, Amen’ – to remind yourself that the Almighty is the trustworthy sovereign of the universe and that He will recompense you in a much more desirable manner than the fleeting pleasure you might experience here and now. 

And that’s the power of Amen and why it’s so important to get to shul on time and answer Amen to all the morning blessings.  One response after another, you drill into your psyche that no matter what happens today, you’re going to maintain your faith and trust in Heaven.   The Almighty is the ruler of the universe and will reward you handsomely for all your efforts. 

When you keep that thought in mind constantly and you never forget that the Almighty is in control and will fulfill His word, you will merit a life of blessing and the strength to rise above temptation!  

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