Maccabee's Wars

A venting rage against the ills of our society with some hopeful observations.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


A new children’s book on the value of saying Amen has just been published. It is an English version of the original Hebrew edition which came out 4 years ago.

Its anonymous author also published a Halachic volume on the recitation of Amen 2 years prior to the previously mentioned Hebrew edition. The Seforim have a number of Haskamos attached and the Halachic Sefer was also published anonymously.

Almost certainly, the Author is a fine man who has devoted his life to this subject and publishes anonymously so that no one gives him undue credit for his work.

However, Dr. S.Z. Leiman in his latest Shabbos Shiur points out 2 major errors in the use of source materials.

Firstly, the author presents the story of the Ger Tzeddek, who as Polish nobleman converted to Judaism under pain of death. At his execution, a great Rabbi hid in the branches of a tree and responded Amen when the Ger Tzeddek screamed out with his last breath Baruch Dayan Emes.

Unfortunately, there is no substance to this story. All accounts put a Jewish child at the scene who dressed as a gentile and then gathered up the remains of the Ger Tzeddek for burial. Any Rabbi hiding in the branches of a tree would have been immediately spotted and executed.

There was no mention of Amen.

Secondly, the author of this children’s book quotes his own Sefer, saying that one is obligated to forfeit his life if he is not allowed to say Amen Befarhesya with 10 men in attendance. The original source is from an obscure Sefer published in 1913 without any Haskamos.

According to Dr. Leiman, of all those who disagree with the Rambam, such as the Rosh,for example, who say that you may forfeit your life for a Mitzvah other than the original three of Avodah Zorah, Shfichas Domim and Gilui Arayos, no one says that forfeiture is allowed for a Shev V’al Tasah situation such as being forced not to say Amen.

It doesn’t even follow as a Chilul Hashem situation since you aren’t being forced to do anything. Moreover the quote from the 1913 Sefer is misconstrued, since that author uses a Kal Vachomer, an a priori inference, to make a point. There is no absolute psak to say Amen under fear of death.

In actuality, the new Ger Tzeddek story was adapted by the author from the Sefer Hereh V’aaino Nireh, which referred to a blood libel which took place in 1790 in Grodno, where people responded Amen to the dying declaration of R’Elezar ben R’ Shlomo Verblover Z”TL who was brutally murdered after being quartered at the site of his execution.

Dr. Leiman concluded by reading from the text of a letter written recently by the Admor of Slonim in reference to the adjustment of stories for the sake of making a point.

See the end of these previous posts for his conclusion: