Friday, May 16, 2008

Amein Yi'hei Shi'mei

It came to my attention recently, from speaking with some friends, that some people don't pronounce the words to Kadish properly. I too, until a little while ago, was pronouncing these words incorrectly. They are very important words said many times a day, how can it be that we've been mispronouncing them? Aside from the fact that we barely look in the Siddur, especially during things we are constantly saying, like Kadish, I think a big factor is that the words are in Aramaic, which could be very similar to Hebrew except with different pronunciations. So i think many people are used to Hebrew so they get mixed up. Here are the words with the nekudos. Just take a nice hard look right now-especially at the nekudos, and you may be surprised (hopefully not)
אָמֵן.יְהֵא שְׁמֵהּ רַבָּא מְבָרַךְ לְעָלַם וּלְעָלְמֵי עָלְמַיָא

I transliterated them as best as I could but I'm afraid with these words its a little more difficult.
"u" is pronounced like "u" in "up." Also "i" is like "i" in pit (unless its part of "ei"). And "a" is like "a" in far...I hope its understandable.

Amein. Yi'hei shi'mei rabu mi'vurach li'ulam ooli'ulimei uli'mayu

"Amen. May His Name that is great be blessed forever and for all eternity." (Kadish-duh)

A few common mistakes: Its "Mi'vurach," NOT "Me'vorach. And- li'ulam ooli'ulimei uli'mayu, NOT li'olam ooli'olimei oli'mayu.

I just recently learned the Halachos of Kadish in the Mishna Berura so I'd like to share some things from there that are noteworthy. (Listed in the order they appear in Siman 56)

  • Chazal say that anyone who answers "Amein. yi'hei shi'mei..." with all of his strength, his (evil)decrees are torn up.
  • The Rishonim explain "All of his strength" to mean all of his concentration, with his whole body; with heart and soul. It shouldn't be just words coming out of his mouth without feeling.
  • One must be very careful to refrain from speaking during Kadish (The M"B brings down a couple of spooky stories about what happened to certain people who spoke during Kadish-its not pretty)
  • One should pause between "Amein" and "yi'hei" because the "Amein" alone is responding to what the Chazan said, and then we continue with out own statement of praise-"yi'hei..."
  • Although, as mentioned before, it is recommended for one to say it in a loud voice, one must still be careful not to do it in such a way that it will cause people to sin by poking fun at it.
  • Answering "Amein. yi'hei shi'mei..." is a huge Mitzvah; greater than Modim and Kedusha!
  • If one walks into Shul when the congregation is in the middle of saying "yi'hei shi'mei rabu..." he should answer also, starting from "yi'hei" but leaving out the "Amein", because he didn't hear the first part which is what the "Amein" is responding to.
  • Remember- Concentrate on the words and their meanings!! These words are incredibly powerful! (This one I threw in myself...)

(Pic courtesy of


Bas~Melech said...

Hm. I didn't realize that those were shvah nah's (as in "ulimaya"). Thanks for the heads-up; I'll be sure to check this out ASAP.

Some of the mispronunciations you pointed out may be more of a difference in accent than an actual error. So do not despair -- we may be in better shape than you thought ;-)

Bas~Melech said...

btw, thanks for clarifying the "u as in up" part. Did you read that discussion in Yated about bentching?! At first I was curious, but ended up ROTFL! "No, the word is yiruh... no, it's yiruuhh... no, its's..." while meanwhile I'm shaking my head thinking "no votes for yir-oo?" And of course it was totally incomprehensible what anyone meant. And there was no way to tell what kind of accent people are applying in their transliteration -- chaseedish? litvish? sphardic? teimani?

Whatever. Poor wasted newsprint on a discussion potentially valuable but going nowhere. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Many mispronounce the word Yisroel as if the reish is said with a cholam as "oh" instead of a kometz as in "up".