Home Subscribe Services Support Us
  Page title
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Annulling Decrees

We are taught that answering “Amen, yehei shmei rabba” (“Amen, His Name should become great”) during kaddish with all of one’s might can annul all harsh heavenly decrees (Shabbos 119b). Some take this statement literally and rule that one should use all of his physical energy to answer kaddish (Tosfos). Others maintain that it refers to one’s powers of mental concentration (Rashi).

The words of our Sages beg the following question: Since Divine justice is very precise, if there is a decree then the person requires this punishment in order to make amends for a transgression. How can he have the decree annulled merely by saying “Amen, yehei shmei rabba”? The purpose of all Divine punishment is to cause us to reflect on our actions so that we redirect ourselves towards serving Hashem properly. When a person says, “Amen yehei shmei rabba” with all his strength, holding nothing back, he lifts himself to the height of his powers to sanctify Hashem’s Name. Since he has already reached the highest pinnacle of Divine service, there is no longer a need for a harsh decree to motivate him further.

While this might sound easy in theory, in practice this is extremely difficult. Focusing all of one’s energy and concentration for every kaddish is no simple task, and one could easily miss the mark. At the same time, a person must be careful not to go overboard, since this could cause others to make fun of his actions, which would be a serious transgression (Mishna Berura 55,5 citing Rabbeinu Yona, Brachos 13b). Focus and insight are crucial to achieving the right balance, so that one can properly sanctify Hashem’s Name.

Answering kaddish raises us to great heights,and in doing so we have the ability to erase all harsh decrees.

Text Copyright © 2008 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and



View Complete List

On A Wing And A Prayer
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5771

Yosef Recognizes His Brothers
- 5773

A Little Oil Goes a Long Way
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5766


We Are All the Children of Yaakov
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5773

Enlightening the Present From the Past
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

Be Patient!
Shlomo Katz - 5761

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Lessons in Devotion
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5756

A Spiritual Holiday
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5755

Battle and Survival
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

> Heart To Heart
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5760

Waning or Waxing
Rabbi Label Lam - 5774

To Win By A Hairsbreadth
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5764

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The Sun Also Rises
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5760

A Glaring Omission
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

Chanukah Thread
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5776

Rabbi Frand on Parshas VaYishlach
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5770

Project Genesis Home

Torah Portion

Jewish Law



Learn the Basics




Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base


About Us

Contact Us

Free Book on Geulah! Home Copyright Information