Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Listening is like Responding

The Gemora (Daf Yomi: Sotah 38a) cites a braisa: “So you should bless.” This must be done in a loud (meaning average, not a whisper) voice. Perhaps it can be done in a whisper? The verse states, “Say to them,” like a person talking to his friend.

The Beis HaLevi rules that one Kohen cannot recite the Priestly Blessing and the others will discharge their obligation by listening. Although there is a principle that “listening is like responding,” it is not effective by this mitzvah. The reason is based upon our Gemora: The Torah says, “Emor la’hem,” say to them, which the Gemora expounds to mean that it should be said in an audible tone. Each Kohen must recite it in this manner. It is not sufficient that he has “responded”; he must say it in a loud voice.

Reb Yaakov Emden states a similar qualification with respect to the laws of kerias haTorah. The halacha is that when one is called up to the Torah, he is required to read along together with the ba’al korei. He does not fulfill his obligation by listening to the ba’al korei. The reason for this is because the Torah must be read from the written scroll. If one is listening, and he wishes to discharge his obligation through the principle of “listening is like responding,” he cannot do so, for he is not responding from the scroll. It is regarded as if he is saying it “by heart,” and he cannot fulfill his obligation in that manner.

The Rogatchover Gaon explains using this principle why the entire congregation recites the “ten sons of Haman,” and they do not fulfill their obligation by listening to the ba’al korei. Although “listening is like responding,” there is a halacha that the ten names must be recited in one breath. If the congregation merely listens to the names being recited, it is considered as if they said the names, but they did not say them in one breath.