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Insertions and Shemoneh Esrei (3)

  • Rav David Brofsky



            Last week, we continued our discussion of insertions into Shemoneh Esrei, as we investigated the origin and laws of the request for rain (“Ve-ten Tal u-matar li-vrakha” in place of “Ve-ten berakha”) incorporated into the ninth blessing of Shemoneh Esrei, Birkat Ha-shanim.  We examined the discrepancy between the time we begin petitioning for rain in Eretz Yisra'el (the Land of Israel) and in the Diaspora, and we questioned whether the halakha would be different in different climates and geographical regions. 


            This week, we will address whether one who omits Ve-ten Tal must repeat Shemoneh Esrei, and we will analyze its relationship to the tefilla as a whole.  Furthermore, we will address other relevant questions regarding the request for rain between Sukkot and Pesach. 



One Who Mistakenly Inserts or Omits the Petition for Rain:


            Regarding one who mistakenly INSERTS prayers for rain during the summer, the Talmud (Ta'anit 3b) teaches:


            Rabbi Chanina said: “Therefore, in the SUMMER, if one inserts [the two words] 'Mashiv ha-ruach,' he should not go back, but if he says 'Morid ha-geshem,' he should go back."


            The Tur and the Shulchan Arukh (OC 117:3) rule that just as one who inserts the phrase "Morid ha-geshem" during the summer must go back, similarly one who inserts Ve-ten Tal during the summer should repeat the berakha.  Furthermore, one who finishes Shemoneh Esrei and realizes that he has said Ve-ten Tal should repeat the entire Shemoneh Esrei!


            Regarding one who mistakenly OMITS Ve-ten Tal during the winter, the Gemara (Berakhot 26b) teaches that one must go back if one forgot it, just as with Mashiv Ha-ruach.  As we saw regarding Mashiv Ha-ruach, one who omits Ve-ten Tal and remembers BEFORE reciting the Shema Koleinu blessing, the final request, should insert Ve-ten Tal in Shema Koleinu.  One who remembers AFTER concluding that blessing, but BEFORE beginning the next (“Retze,” “Be pleased,” often referred to as Avoda because it speaks of the service in the Temple) should say Ve-ten Tal and then continue with Retze.  One who has already began Retze but not finished Shemoneh Esrei should return to the ninth blessing, Birkat Ha-shanim.  However, one who has concluded Shemoneh Esrei and retreated three steps should go back to the very beginning (OC 117:5).


            One might ask the following question: why must one who mistakenly omits Ve-ten Tal and concludes one's tefilla return to the beginning of Shemoneh Esrei?     On the one hand, one might suggest that certain insertions become such an integral part of Shemoneh Esrei, that when they are omitted, one does not even fulfill one’s obligation of tefilla!  On the other hand, one might propose that while the obligation of tefilla has been discharged, one may only fulfill the requirement to recite the phrase within the context of a specific berakha within the framework of Shemoneh Esrei.  In other words, one may have fulfilled tefilla, yet one may still need to repeat Shemoneh Esrei in order to insert a given petition! 


            One sees this very question debated regarding the addition of “Ya'aleh Ve-yavo,” “May it ascend and arrive,”the paragraph for all of the special days in the calendar enumerated in the Torah.  The Gemara (Shabbat 24a) teaches:


            On days during which the Musaf (additional) offering is to be brought — such as Rosh Chodesh and Chol Ha-mo'ed — evening, morning, and afternoon one recites Shemoneh Esrei and mentions the special occasion in the blessing of Avoda.  If one omits it, we send him back.


            The Gemara rules that one who mistakenly omits Ya'aleh Ve-yavo must return to the beginning of the berakha, and if he has already completed Shemoneh Esrei, he must repeat the silent prayer in its entirety. 


            The Rishonim grapple with a fascinating question, related to a topic we dealt with extensively last year.  We have already learned ( that one who inadvertently misses a prayer may recite the silent prayer of the next tefilla twice: once for the current obligation and once as tashlumin, compensation for the lost prayer. 


            What if one omits Ya'aleh Ve-yavo during the final service of Rosh Chodesh?  Does one need to recite Shemoneh Esrei of Arvit, the evening service, twice?  On the one hand, it seems that Ya'aleh Ve-yavo serves no purpose at night, as it is no longer Rosh Chodesh.  On the other hand, if we regard one who omits Ya'aleh Ve-yavo on Rosh Chodesh as one who has not prayed at all, perhaps he should recite the Shemoneh Esrei of Arvit twice, once for the current prayer and once for the missed Mincha (afternoon) prayer!


            Tosafot (Berakhot 26b, s.v. Ta'a) report:


            Rabbeinu Yehuda wrote: “If one mistakenly omits [mentioning] Rosh Chodesh at Mincha, he does NOT have to [repeat the] tefilla during the night; why would he pray again? He already prayed during Mincha, even though he inadvertently omitted Rosh Chodesh; if so, he gains nothing by praying again at night, AFTER Rosh Chodesh.”


            In other words, Rabbeinu Yehuda, as cited by Tosafot, clearly believes that one fulfills one’s obligation of prayer even without saying Ya'aleh Ve-yavo.  Apparently, however, on Rosh Chodesh, one must repeat Shemoneh Esrei in its entirety, if necessary, in order to “mention the special occasion,” as Ya'aleh Ve-yavo may only be recited as part of Shemoneh Esrei


            The students of Rabbeinu Yona (Berakhot 18a), however, cite the sages of Provence, who insist that one who omits Ya'aleh Ve-yavo during Mincha MUST recite Tefillat Arvit twice, as one who forgets Rosh Chodesh has invalidated his prayer. 


            The Shulchan Arukh (OC 108:11) rules that one who omits Ya'aleh Ve-yavo during Mincha should recite the silent prayer of Arvit twice, having in mind that if the halakha is in accordance with Tosafot, then his extra Shemoneh Esrei should be a tefillat nedava (voluntary prayer). 


            Regarding the petition for rain, one might ask a similar question: if one mistakenly omits Ve-ten Tal on Friday afternoon, should one recite the silent prayer of Arvit twice, being that Birkat Ha-shanim, like all other requests, is omitted on Shabbat?  In other words, should one repeat Shemoneh Esrei when the missing element will in any case not be included in the next tefilla?  Should we suggest that the debate regarding Ya'aleh Ve-yavo should apply to Ve-ten Tal?


            Interestingly, Rabbi Chayyim Soloveitchik, in his Chiddushim al Ha-Shas (Ch. 1), suggests that ALL would agree that omitting Ve-ten Tal from the ninth blessing of Shemoneh Esrei invalidates the very berakha itself, and therefore tashlumin must be recited at night.  Others (see Har Tzevi 1:58 and Ketzot Ha-shulchan 28:7) disagree.


            Interestingly, “the Steipler,” Rabbi Ya'akov Yisra'el Kanievsky (18991985), author of Kehillot Ya'akov, also discusses this issue.  A number of the points he cites may relate to our discussion.              For example, he discusses a case where one who has omitted Ya'aleh Ve-yavo repeats Shemoneh Esrei as tashlumin,  but during the second prayer, he forgets to insert Ve-ten Tal!  On the one hand, as he has already inserted Ve-ten Tal into his first tefilla and has fulfilled the obligation to request rain, we might suggest that the second tefilla recited WITHOUT Ve-ten Tal is sufficient.  Alternatively, we might say that a tefilla recited without Ve-ten Tal is simply invalid and would not count for a person's tashlumin.  Seemingly, the same question we raised regarding the relationship between Ya'aleh Ve-yavo and Shemoneh Esrei should apply here. 



Laws of the Traveler:


            How should one pray if he travels, between 7 Marcheshvan and 5 December, from Eretz Yisra'el to the Diaspora, or vice versa?


            Regarding a resident of Eretz Yisra'el who travels to the Diaspora, the Ba'er Heitev (OC 117:4) cites a debate among the “greats of the Acharonim.”  Rabbi Ya'akov ben Avraham Castro, author of the Sefer Moharikash: Erekh Lechem, insists that even one who does NOT intend on returning to Eretz Yisra'el during the winter, if he has left behind a spouse and children there, should insert Ve-ten Tal as a ben Eretz Yisra'el (Israeli resident). 


            Others disagree.  The Peri Chadash, for example, maintains that only one who intends to return during that year should insert Ve-ten Tal like a resident of Eretz Yisra'el.  Alternatively, the Birkkei Yosef, as well as the Devar Shemu'el and Yad Avraham, opine that one should pray in accordance to the custom of the place in which he currently finds himself. 


            Practically, one who leaves Israel BEFORE 7 Marcheshvan should insert Ve-ten Tal into Shema Koleinu and continue to recite Birkat Ha-shanim as if it were summertime.  However, one who travels AFTER 7 Marcheshvan and has already begun to insert Ve-ten Tal should not change his practice.  Nevertheless, if one travels with one’s entire family for an extended period of time, one should adopt the custom of his or her Diaspora community and begin inserting Ve-ten Tal from 5 December.


            Similarly, the authorities disagree regarding one who travels from the Diaspora to Eretz Yisra'el between 7 Marcheshvan and 5 December.  While one who intends to stay in Eretz Yisra'el should most certainly pray according to the custom of the land, one who intends to return BEFORE 5 December faces a more serious question.  Some suggest that he insert Ve-ten Tal into Shema Koleinu (see Ishei Yisra'el 23:37), while others suggest praying in accordance with the custom and needs of Eretz Yisra'el


            It seems that due to the extensive debate regarding these questions, one who prays in accordance with any of the opinions cited above, even by mistake, need not repeat Shemoneh Esrei.  See the halakhic compendium Ishei Tefilla, 23:37-9, for a summary of these laws.



            Next week we will study the concluding section of Shemoneh Esrei, from Retze onwards.