Word found at the end of prayers has a long, complex history.

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Among Jews amen is never used at the beginning of a sentence as it is in the Gospels (Matthew 5: 18, 26; 6: 2; Luke 4: 24; John I: 51). David Abudarham, in his commentary to the prayer book, compares the response of amen to the validation of a bond by a court of law. Without such validation the bond may be a forgery or otherwise incapable of performing its proper function.

Some of the later Rabbis discuss whether amen should be said to a benediction heard over the radio. The ruling is that there is no need for the one who recites amen to be in the same room as the one who recites the benediction. Nor is it necessary for the one who recites amen actually to hear the benediction. It is sufficient if he knows that the benediction has been recited. In a humorous Talmudic passage it is told that a synagogue in Alexandria was so huge that at the end of each benediction by the prayer leader a flag had to be waved so that those at a distance would know when to say amen.

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Rabbi Louis Jacobs

Rabbi Dr. Louis Jacobs (1920-2006) was a Masorti rabbi, the first leader of Masorti Judaism (also known as Conservative Judaism) in the United Kingdom, and a leading writer and thinker on Judaism.