This awesome story from the Kaf Hachaim (124:30) and R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo end of sefer) reveals how severe the punishment for not answering “Amein” to a Bracha can be. “Rav Mordechai Yaffo (known as the “Levush”) once went to study by a great Sephardic scholar named Rabbi Abohav. One day Rabbi Abohav’s son made a Beracha and everyone answered “Amein” except for Rabbi Yaffo. Rabbi Abohav was so angry with him that he excommunicated him. After 30 days, Rabbi Yaffo asked forgiveness which Rabbi Abohav granted. Rabbi Abohav then told him the following story depicting the severe punishment for not answering “Amein,” explaining that he excommunicated him to save him from a much harsher punishment.”Before the expulsion of The Jews in Spain in 1492, there were holy Jewish communities there. The evil Torquemada, leader of the Inquisition, attempted to expel them many times, but there was one pious Jew whom King Ferdinand respected and he would always save the Jews from expulsion. After one such edict, the Jews came to the king’s friend begging him to intervene on their behalf. He agreed to go to the King, but wished to daven Mincha first. They persuaded him to go immediately, since it was a matter of life or death. The King was very happy to see him, and they started conversing about the decree. Meanwhile, a priest came in and started to bless the King with a long Latin blessing. The Jew, who had not yet davened Mincha, withdrew to a corner and started to daven, hoping that he would finish davening before the priest would conclude his blessing, thus his absence would go unnoticed. The priest, however, concluded his blessing while the Jew was still davening Mincha, and called upon everyone present to answer (the Latin equivalent of) “Amein” on his blessing. Everyone answered “Amein” except the Jew who was still davening. Afterwards, the priest asked the Jew if he answered “Amein” to his blessing. When the pious Jew told him that he didn’t answer “Amein,” the priest flew into a rage. He started ripping his hair out, screaming that now his blessing would not be fulfilled because the Jew didn’t answer “Amein.” When King Ferdinand heard this, he also became furious and ordered the Jew killed with a cruel death, and his body sent home. He then, together with Queen Isabella, signed the final edict expelling all the Jews from Spain by Tisha B’Av 1492.
A close friend of the murdered Jew fasted for many days to be allowed to know what sin this pious Jew had committed to deserve such a brutal death. The murdered Jew appeared to his friend in a dream and explained to him that one time, (and only one time), he neglected to answer “Amein” to his child’s blessing. Until this incident the Heavenly Court did not prosecute him. However, when this priest got angry over his lack of saying “Amein,” the Heavenly Court prosecuted him and sentenced him to die such a horrible death.”
“Rabbi Abohav concluded; “Heaven will forgive you on the condition that you publicize this story, and warn everyone to be careful and always answer ‘Amein’.”
Rav Eliyahu Lopian would repeat the following amazing thought in the name of R’ Simcha Zissel Broide (aka The Alter of Kelm), one of the prime students of R’ Yisroel Salanter;
* It would be worthy for Hashem to create the entire universe and cause it to exist for 6000 years just so that one Jew would say “Boruch Hu U’voruch Shemo” one time!
* However, 1000 “Boruch Hu U’voruch Shemo’s” is not equal to one “Amein”!
* Nevertheless, 1000 Amein’s is not equal to one “Amein Yehei Shemei Rabbah”!
* Yet, 1000 “Amein Yehei Shemei Rabbah’s” is not equal to one single word of Torah learned by one Jew!