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Why do we say the words "Baruch Shem kevod malchuto le'olam va'ed" ("Blessed be the Name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever") quietly after the Shema prayer?

by Mrs. Dinka Kumer

  

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Question:


Hi, I wanted to know why we say 'Baruch Shem Kevod" quietly as opposed to the rest of the Shema prayer. Thanks, David M.


 


Answer:


We recite the verse "Shema Yisrael" ("Hear, O Israel") aloud which is then followed by a whispered "Baruch Shem…", which is subsequently followed by the "Ve'ahavta" ("You shall love") paragraph, aloud.


The Sages taught that the forefather Jacob wanted to prophetically disclose the date of the final redemption to his children, but the Divine Spirit departed from him, and he could not reveal this date to them. Jacob became concerned that the reason for the Divine Spirit's departure was due to a spiritual failing in one of his children. His children all answered with the verse "Shema…"  in order to declare to their father, "Listen to us 'Israel' (Jacob's alternate name) our father. Just as you only have the One G-d in your heart, so too, we all have faith in the One in our hearts." Jacob then replied, "Baruch Shem…" thanking G-d for his children's unwavering faith. The Sages decided that since this verse was not one written in the Torah by Moses, but rather recited by Jacob, it should be said quietly in our prayers.


A second opinion is that Moses heard this prayer recited by the angels and then 'borrowed' is for us to use in prayer. Since this verse was not originally our 'own' we say it in a modest undertone during the year. However, on Yom Kippur, when we are likened to the angels, we can recite "Baruch Shem" out loud just as the angels do.


 


[Ed. note: Also read about "Why do we say the verse "Baruch shem kevod..." out loud on Yom Kippur?"]


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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Yom Kippur
Day of Atonement. This late-autumn high-holiday is the holiest day of the year. We devote this day to repentance and all healthy adults are required to fast.
Moses
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
Jacob
Third of the three Patriarchs and father of the Twelve Tribes. Lived most his life in Canaan and died in Egypt in 1505 BCE. Also known by the name of "Israel."
David
King of Israel who succeeded Saul, becoming king of Israel in 876 BCE. Originally a shepherd, he became popular after he killed the Philistine strongman, Goliath. He is the progenitor of the Davidic royal dynasty -- which will return to the throne with the arrival of King Messiah.
Yisrael
1. Additional name given by G-d to Patriarch Jacob. 2. A Jew who is not a Kohain or Levi (descendant of the Tribe of Levi).
Shema
The most fundamental Jewish prayer, recited twice daily. This prayer, of Biblical origin, professes the belief in G-d's absolute unity.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.