If I am talking to someone over the phone and they make a beracha on a drink, should I answer amen?

Answer:

Amen is not answered for a blessing that a person hears over the phone.

Rav Shlomo Zalman (Minchas Shlomo 1:9) writes that the case is apparently similar to the shul in Alexandria (Sukkah 51b), where people answered amen after seeing raised flags, but could not actually be yotzei with the chazzan’s berachah (see Tosafos, Sukkah 52a). According to this comparison, one would answer amen to the berachah, and this is the ruling given by Rav Ovadyah Yosef.

However, Rav Shlomo Zalman rules that it is possible that the case of Alexandria is different, because one is present in the same room, and therefore rules that one should not say amen to a berachah heard on the phone, where one person can be on the other side of the world, and the two are not “joined together” by any geographical factor.

The common custom is to follow this ruling, and not to answer amen for berachos over the phone. However, it might be correct to nod one’s head as an alternative to answering amen, as we find in the Gemara in Berachos (7a).

 

2 Responses to “Berachah Over the Phone”

  1. Alhough there is a lot more to this topic, I just wanted to point out that besides Rav Ovadiah’s ruling to answer Amen based on the shul in Alexandria (Shu”t Yechava Daas 3,54), other contemporary authorities including Rav Moshe Feinstein (Shu”t Igros Moshe O.C. 4,91,4) and the Tzitz Eliezer (8, 11) also both rule that one must answer Amen to a bracha over the telephone, and not like Rav Shlomo Zalman.

    kol tuv,
    Y. Spitz
    Yerushalayim

    • Thank you for pointing this out. However, I did not find the Rav Moshe you mention. Do you mean Orach Chaim 2:108, which refers to hearing Megillah over the microphone? See also Mo’adim U’zemanim 6:105. Due to the safek involved, I think it is permitted, even if not obligatory, to answer amen, provided one knows which berachah is being made, and that one is not obligated in the berachah (based on Shulchan Aruch and Rema 124:8).

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