Baruch Shem K’vod Malchuto… (II)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

…continued from here:

The phrase “baruch shem…” has other uses and appears in other places, as well. The most famous of these appearances is in the twice daily recitation of kriat shema. The practice of saying “baruch shem…” after the “shema yisrael…” originates with Yaakov Avinu who gathered his children together just before he died with the intention of revealing to them when Mashiach would come. At that moment all his children recited “shema yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad” so that their father should feel secure knowing that they all believed in and worshipped only Hashem. In response, Yaakov said “baruch shem kevod malchuto l’olam v’aed.”[1] 

One will readily notice that “baruch shem…” is not found anywhere in the Torah, and certainly not among the passages of the shema. Accordingly, since Moshe did not institute the saying of “baruch shem…” when reciting shema, we recite it silently (though the words must be audible to one’s ear[2]) out of respect for him. There is another view which teaches that Moshe heard the angels praising God with the formula “baruch shem…”, and that he “stole” the idea from them.  According to this approach, since this phrase is not truly “ours”, having been plagiarized from the angels, we recite it silently.[3] On Yom Kippur, however, when everyone is elevated to the status of angels we recite the “baruch shem…” out loud just like them.[4]


There is also a famous dispute as to whether one or two blessings are to be recited when putting on tefillin. The Ashkenazi custom is to recite two blessings, one for the tefillin of the arm, and one for the tefillin of the head. Nevertheless, in deference to the authorities who hold that the second blessing upon the head tefillin is actually unjustified, one recites “baruch shem…” after fastening the head tefillin in place.[5] It is interesting to note that in the event that one realizes that one has said numerous blessings in vain, one recitation of  “baruch shem….” will suffice to rectify them all.[6]


We also find the phrase “baruch shem…” associated with the Kohen Gadol. When the Kohen Gadol was heard uttering God’s name on Yom Kippur, the nation responded with “baruch shem…”[7]  We recall this awesome event several times in the Yom Kippur mussaf. This is based on a passage in the Torah which tells us that when we hear someone praising God, we ourselves are to join in.[8]Today, we accomplish this by responding “amen” to the prayers or blessings of another. In the Beit Hamikdash one responded with “baruch shem…” when hearing a blessing recited, and not “amen” as is the practice today.[9] (…makes for a very lengthy chazarat hashatz!)


With the exception of Yom Kippur as mentioned, some authorities are of the opinion that “baruch shem…” is a phrase that should always be recited silently no matter what the context or purpose may be.[10] On the other hand, there are those who say that one who is praying alone need not be particular to recite “baruch shem…” silently and that  it may be recited in one’s normal audible manner, including as part of kriat shema, should one desire to do so.[11]



[1] Pesachim 56a.

[2] Kaf Hachaim 61:47

[3] O.C. 61:13

[4] O.C. 619:2, Mishna Berura 619:8

[5] Rema O.C. 25:5, Mishna Berura O.C. 25:21

[6] Halichot Shlomo;Tefilla 4 note 24

[7] Yoma 66a

[8] Devarim 32:3

[9] Tosefta, Berachot 6:28.

[10] Tur O.C. 619

[11] Teshuvot V’hanhagot 2:46. For those who might be interested, R’ Ari Kinsberg was kind enough to send me a discussion thread on whether “baruch shem…” should be recited in a trop. Included in the first link is an image of a siddur that include trop notes for the “baruch shem…”.,,,

About Ari Enkin

Rabbi Ari N. Enkin, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, is a researcher and writer of contemporary halachic issues. He is the author of the “Dalet Amot of Halacha” series (8 volumes), Rabbinic Director of United with Israel and a RA"M at a number of yeshivot.


  1. I believe the Talmud yerushalmi says to always say baruch shem outloud during the shema, so as to not allow Christian heretics to say something else.

    (vague memory from “Why we pray what we pray”)

  2. pp. 53 (bottom) – 57 (bottom) and he then goes to the Merkavah angle. The Talmudic reference is Bavli Pesachim 56a and revolves around:

    אמר רבי אבהו התקינו שיהו אומרים אותו בקול רם מפני תרעומת המינין ובנהרדעא דליכא מינין עד השתא אמרי לה בחשאי

  3. Can you explain the contrast between the quiet “Baruch Shem” and its Aramaic counterpart, “Yehei shmei rabbah…” which Chazal advice us to say out loud?

  4. Angels don’t know Aramaic 🙂

  5. We should not underestimate the influence of the Heichalot literature on our liturgy.

  6. Alter-

    The two arent identical and they originate from different sources. I dont know of any connection between the two.

    Ari Enkin

  7. Can you explain the contrast between the quiet “Baruch Shem” and its Aramaic counterpart, “Yehei shmei rabbah…” which Chazal advice us to say out loud?

    Kaddish consists of 1) an invitation/request to praise God’s name 2) the actual praising 3) an elaborated form of the same praising. “Yehei” is 2). Once someone has made the invitation, it would be wrong for everyone not to hear the resulting praise, lest it appear that the invitation was ignored.

    “Baruch shem” responds to a situation, not to a request. So there is no special reason to say it aloud, and there conceivably could be reasons to davka say it quietly.

  8. I have heard that baruch Shem is said after Ana B’Koach because it’s Roshai Taivot spell out one of Hashem’s names. Maybe it’s similar to what you mentioned about the Kohen Gadol saying Hashem’s name be’forash. Here we say something that hints at it, so just in case . . .

  9. see the Targum Yerushalmy in Parshas Vayechi, when Yackov begins his “Brachos” for a connection of Baruch shem and Yhey shmay raba.

  10. See the Aruch HaShulchan for a different explanation of the Baruch SHem.. after the second bracha on tefillin.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter

The latest weekly digest is also available by clicking here.

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter



%d bloggers like this: