by Rabbi David Hanania Pinto
Previously, we expanded on the enormous reward in store for one who answers Amen, as presented in the words of Chazal and in the Midrash, that He opens the gates of heaven and brings down an abundance of spiritual and material blessings. Consequently, the reward for one who answers Amen is like the dividends, since his reward is guaranteed also in this world, aside from the principal, which is reserved for the World to Come, eternally.
There is an amazing story that took place in Baghdad in the days of Rabbi Yosef Chaim, zya”a, the Ben Ish Chai:
There were two partners who lived in Baghdad who dealt with old clothes. Once, they heard of a gentile family offering old clothes for sale, and they went together to purchase them.
On the way they passed by a Beit Haknesset where they sought a tenth man to fill the quorum in order to say Kaddish. One merchant replied that his time was short and he separated from his partner. However the other one abided by the words of Chazal who say “A mitzvah that comes your way, do not delay performing it.” He entered the Beit Haknesset and answered the Amens after the Kaddish and immediately continued on his destination. When he arrived, he discovered that his fellow had already bought most of the clothes, besides for some tattered rags. Nevertheless, in order not to return empty-handed, he bought the rags and left.
A surprise awaited him at home. Among the tattered rags there was an old pillow. When he tore open the seams to remove the feathers, he found a precious gem inside. Immediately he ran to the jeweler who estimated that it was worth fifty gulden, and he gave him the money for it in cash on the spot. But, when the merchant’s wife heard about this, she began to persuade her husband that the jeweler had swindled him, since the gem was worth a lot more, and he should fight to get the jewel back.
The merchant decided to consult the “Ben Ish Chai,” zt”l. When the Rabbi heard the entire story, he replied: According to Chazal [Chulin 87a] it seems that the reward for every Amen is worth ten gulden. If so, when you heard a half Kaddish and answered five Amens, according to the letter of the law, you deserve fifty gulden in this world, while the principal is reserved for you in the World to Come. Therefore, do not appeal the bargain you made!
Omitting Amen reflects a lack of faith
On the other hand, we should note the inspiring words of the “Moreh Mikdash” in the name of the Mahara”m Schiff, zt”l:
Every Jew must be aware of the magnitude of the prohibition of speaking mundane matters in the Beit Haknesset. In the holy Zohar it states that one who speaks [idly] in the Beit Haknesset, causes division – since his soul does not bond to the G-d of Israel, and also he harms his faith; meaning, that since he is engaged in chatter, he is not careful to answer Amen because he does not pay attention to the conclusion of the blessing. And even if he does pay attention, ultimately he does not know for what he is answering Amen (especially by the repetition of the Chazzan, if there are not ten men to answer Amen, then it is a blessing which is in vain). Since the one who answers Amen is called “guardian of faith – שומר אמנים”, then one who is not careful with this harms his faith.