Forgot Tal Umatar

Question #1: Forgot once!

What is the halacha if someone forgot to pray for rain?

Question #2: Forgot twice!!

“I just recited the words baruch Attah Hashem of the beracha Shema Koleinu, and I realize that I have not recited Vesein tal umatar! What do I do now?”

Question #3: Forgot a third time!!! Have I struck out?

“I went back to Boreich Aleinu because I forgot Vesein tal umatar the first time I said shemoneh esrei. But now I forgot Vesein tal umatar again. Do I get another chance?”

Foreword

Chazal (Mishnah, Taanis 2a, 5a and 10a; Gemara Taanis, 10a) instituted that a small prayer requesting rain be added to the shemoneh esrei during the winter months. The Mishnah and Gemara conclude that this prayer is begun in Eretz Yisrael on the Seventh of Marcheshvan and, in Bavel, sixty days after the equinox. This article will not discuss how we calculate “sixty days after the equinox” and why it falls in the beginning of December.

Bavel vs. Eretz Yisrael

Rashi (Taanis, 10a s.v. Tata’i) explains that “we” follow the approach of Bavel, which means that the commonly accepted practice outside Eretz Yisrael is to begin reciting Vesein tal umatar in early December (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 117:1,2). I have written articles that are on the website RabbiKaganoff.com in which I explained the disagreement between Rashi and the Rosh, who disputes his conclusion; I also presented the debate among the poskim regarding when Vesein tal umatar is recited in the southern hemisphere.

Edot hamizrah and Ashkenazim

It should be noted that the Edot hamizrah follow a very different procedure for reciting Vesein tal umatar than do Ashkenazim. Based on kabbalistic sources, the Edot hamizrah recite a completely different text for the entire Boreich aleinu beracha during the winter months than they do in the summer months. Ashkenazim, whether they daven nusach Ashkenaz or nusach Sefard, merely add the words tal umatar and a letter lamed between the word ve’sein and the word beracha. Either approach is acceptable.

There is an interesting advantage to the way the Edot hamizrah fulfill this requirement of reciting Vesein tal umatar. Since the entire beracha has two different versions, someone who is uncertain whether he recited Vesein tal umatar but knows that he began the winter version of the beracha may assume that he recited that version completely, including the proper recital of Vesein tal umatar (Halichos Shelomoh, Tefillah, Devar Halacha 8:30).

Forgot once

What is the halacha if someone did not recite Vesein tal umatar?

Someone who neglected to mention Vesein tal umatar in his shemoneh esrei and completed his shemoneh esrei must daven again (Berachos 26b). However, someone who forgot Vesein tal umatar in the beracha of Boreich Aleinu may still recite Vesein tal umatar in Shema Koleinu (Berachos 29a), immediately before the words ki Attah shomei’a tefillas, which iswhere he would recite aneinu on a fast day. Thus, one is required to recite Vesein tal umatar as an essential part of davening, but there are two places in davening where Vesein tal umatar may be included.

We should note that there are times when reciting Vesein tal umatar in the beracha of Shema Koleinu is preferable, as indicated in the following passage of Gemara: “The people of Nineveh sent the following she’eilah to Rebbe: Our city requires rain, even in the middle of the summer. Are we considered individuals that request rain in Shema Koleinu, or are we considered a community that recites Ve’sein tal umatar during Boreich Aleinu? Rebbe responded that they are considered individuals and should request rain during Shema Koleinu” (Taanis 14b).

Why should the people of Nineveh recite Vesein tal umatar in Shema Koleinu rather than in Boreich Aleinu? The answer is that someone who recites Vesein tal umatar in Boreich Aleinu when he is not supposed to must return to that beracha. (If he completed the shemoneh esrei without correcting his error, he must recite shemoneh esrei again from the beginning.) However, reciting Vesein tal umatar during Shema Koleinu does not violate the halacha and does not require that he repeat the davening. Someone looking for a job or a shidduch, or whose town is suffering from a drought, may request help during Shema Koleinu. Thus, requesting rain in Shema Koleinu is fitting any time of the year; requesting rain in Boreich Aleinu is reserved for the needs of a community, and only in the appropriate season.

We now know that there are situations when requesting rain in Shema Koleinu is the best thing to do. This is also the solution often suggested for someone who is uncertain whether he should recite Vesein tal umatar – for example, someone visiting or traveling to Eretz Yisrael who is uncertain whether he should recite Vesein tal umatar during the days between the 7th of Marcheshvan and December 4th (on the above website, I have an article on this topic). Similarly, some authorities rule that, in the southern hemisphere, it is best to recite Vesein tal umatar in Shema Koleinu, so as to accommodate differing opinions. I discussed this matter at length in the article that I referred to earlier.

This is what you dew

The Gemara states that, both in the beracha of Mechayeh Hameisim and in the beracha of Boreich Aleinu, only mention of rain, using either of the two words, geshem or matar, is essential (see Taanis 3a). Someone who forgot to mention either the wind or the dew, but requested that Hashem bring rain, has fulfilled his requirement and does not repeat anything at all. Therefore, a person reciting Vesein matar al penei ha’adamah but omitting the word tal, dew, should not correct himself, since this is an unnecessary repetition in the shemoneh esrei and constitutes a hefsek (Mekor Chayim 18:8).

Someone who forgot to recite either Mashiv haruach umorid hagashem or Vesein tal umatar, when required, is obligated to repeat the shemoneh esrei. However, there is an important difference between the two, as noted by the Tur. Someone who recited Morid hatal, praising Hashem for providing dew, rather than Mashiv haruach umorid hagashem, is not required to repeat the shemoneh esrei. On the other hand, someone who is required to recite Vesein tal umatar but prayed only for dew and said Vesein tal al penei ha’adamah is required to repeat the shemoneh esrei.

Geshem instead of matar?

Is there any halachic difference between reciting the word geshem and reciting the word matar? Both mean rain. What is the halacha if someone said Vesein tal ugeshem livracha instead of Vesein tal umatar? The Aruch Hashulchan (Orach Chayim 114:2) rules that he has fulfilled the mitzvah and does not repeat any davening.

Before or after Aneinu?

What should someone do if it is a fast day and he has to say Vesein tal umatar in Shema Koleinu? Both requests, Aneinu and Vesein tal umatar, should be recited immediately before the words ki Attah shomei’a tefillas. Which one does he recite first?

Quoting the Avudraham, the Rema rules that Vesein tal umatar should be recited before Aneinu (Orach Chayim 117:5). The Magen Avraham (ad loc.) explains that this is because Vesein tal umatar is considered more vital than Aneinu – should someone omit Vesein tal umatar, he is required to repeat the davening, whereas omitting Aneinu never requires someone to repeat davening.

Finished davening

Someone who completed the shemoneh esrei and realizes that he did not say Vesein tal umatar must repeat shemoneh esrei from the beginning (Tosafos, Berachos 29b s.v. Ha). If he is still reciting personal prayers at the end of the shemoneh esrei, or he is still thinking about what personal prayers he wants to say, he is considered to be in the middle of shemoneh esrei. However, someone who backed up to say oseh shalom at the end of shemoneh esrei, or he who has concluded what he intends to daven, has completed his davening, and he must begin shemoneh esrei from the beginning in order to recite Vesein tal umatar.

What should someone do if he forgot Vesein tal umatar in its proper place, forgot it again in Shema Koleinu, and already began the beracha of Retzei. We know that he must return to the proper place to recite Vesein tal umatar, but the question is whether he returns only to Shema Koleinu, or must he return all the way back to Boreich Aleinu? This question is disputed by the ga’onim and the rishonim (see Tosafos, Berachos 29b s.v. Ha; Rosh, Berachos 4:14; Rashba, Berachos 29b; Beis Yosef, Orach Chayim 117). The poskim conclude that he should return to Boreich Aleinu (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 117:5).

Completed Shema Koleinu

What is the halacha if someone completed the beracha of Shema Koleinu, but did not yet begin Retzei. May he recite Vesein tal umatar at this point and avoid repeating parts of the shemoneh esrei, or must he already return to Boreich Aleinu? This question involves a dispute among rishonim, some of whom contend that, as long as he has not begun the word Retzei he is still considered to be in the beracha of Shema Koleinu and it is still an acceptable place to recite Vesein tal umatar (Rosh, Taanis 1:1). On the other hand, other rishonim argue that once he recited the words Boruch Attah Hashem Shomei’a Tefillah, he has completed that beracha and can no longer recite Vesein tal umatar (see Biur Halacha 114:6).

Which rishon is correct?

There is a dispute between two of the greatest poskim of their era, the Shulchan Aruch and the Maharshal, regarding how we rule in this situation. The Shulchan Aruch concludes that the halacha follows the Rosh and, therefore, it is acceptable to insert Vesein tal umatar between the berachos of Shema Koleinu and saying the word Retzei. However, the Maharshal contends that the halacha is that once the beracha is completed, it is too late to add a missed addition.

How do we rule?

Since the Shulchan Aruch concludes like the Rosh, most later authorities follow this opinion that it is acceptable to add something to a beracha after its recital is completed, as long as one has not begun the subsequent beracha. This halacha may be applied to other additions to our davening, including Mashiv haruach umorid hagashem and Yaaleh Veyavo.

Forgot twice!!

At this point, we can address the second of our opening questions: “I just recited the words baruch Attah Hashem of the beracha Shema Koleinu, and I realize that I have not recited Vesein tal umatar! What do I do now?”

The later poskim dispute what someone should do in this situation. The Mishnah Berurah (117:19 and Biur Halacha 114:6) paskins that he should interpose the two words, lamdeini chukecha, which means that he has now made the potential beracha into a pasuk (Tehillim 119:12). Then he should recite Vesein tal umatar, followed by the closing of the beracha ki Attah shomei’a tefillas amcha Yisrael berachamim (tefilas kol peh, if he davens nusach Sefard) and close the beracha correctly Boruch Attah Hashem Shomei’a Tefillah. This method avoids the dispute among rishonim as to whether he must daven over or not; however, it creates an interruption in the middle of his prayers.

The Tehillah Ledavid (Orach Chayim 114:7) is not convinced that creating this interruption is better than completing the beracha by reciting Shomei’a Tefillah, then reciting Vesein tal umatar and continuing with Retzei.Rav Moshe Feinstein concludes, unlike the Mishnah Berurah, that he should definitely complete the beracha of Shomei’a Tefillah and then mention Vesein tal umatar (Shu”t Igros Moshe, Orach Chayim, 4:93).

Forgot three times — an ultra long shemoneh esrei

What is the halacha if someone (a) forgot to say Vesein tal umatar in Boreich Aleinu, then (b) forgot to say it in Shema Koleinu, (c) remembers it before he completed his shemoneh esrei, which requires him to return to Boreich Aleinu, but he then (d) forgot to say it (again) in Boreich Aleinu! Must he (1) begin his shemoneh esrei from the beginning, or (2) return to Boreich Aleinu, or may he (3) simply continue his shemoneh esrei and (hopefully) remember to say it in Shema Koleinu (this second time around). Rav Shelomoh Zalman Auerbach rules that he should follow the third option suggested – simply continue his shemoneh esrei and remember to recite Vesein tal umatar in his second recital of Shema Koleinu (Halichos Shelomoh, Tefillah,8:22).

Friday mincha

What is the halacha if someone omitted Vesein tal umatar in mincha on erev Shabbos, and now it is Shabbos. Someone who forgot to daven mincha on Friday davens an extra tefillah, called a tefillas tashlumin, on Friday night, to make up the missed mincha, even though the Shabbos eve prayer is completely different from the shemoneh esrei he would have said on Friday. Is the same halacha true if he davened Friday mincha, but omitted saying Vesein tal umatar? After all, he recited the shemoneh esrei on Friday afternoon, and the insertion Vesein tal umatar is not said on Shabbos; so, does he gain by repeating the shemoneh esrei of Shabbos?

Before answering this question, we need to research a related issue discussed already in the rishonim (Tosafos, Berachos 26b s.v. Ta’ah). Someone forgot Yaaleh Veyavo in mincha on Rosh Chodesh, and the following evening is no longer Rosh Chodesh. Does he recite a tefillas tashlumin after he recites maariv? On the one hand, someone who forgot Yaaleh Veyavo on Rosh Chodesh must daven again, but, in this instance, he will not be reciting Yaaleh Veyavo anyway.

The question is the following: Why does he repeat the shemoneh esrei when he forgot Yaaleh Veyavo? Is it because he cannot fulfill the requirement of tefillah on Rosh Chodesh without Yaaleh Veyavo? Or has he, indeed, fulfilled the mitzvah of tefillah, but he still has a requirement to recite Yaaleh Veyavo, and Yaaleh Veyavo cannot be said without shemoneh esrei. The practical difference between the two understandings is our case – where he already missed the opportunity to recite Yaaleh Veyavo at mincha, and will be unable to recite Yaaleh Veyavo the following evening because it is no longer Rosh Chodesh. If missing Yaaleh Veyavo means that he did not fulfill his obligation to pray mincha, he is required to daven maariv with a tefillas tashlumin in order to make up the missed mincha. However, if he fulfilled his requirement to daven mincha, but is missing Yaaleh Veyavo, nothing is accomplished by davening an extra maariv tefillah, since either way he has missed Yaaleh Veyavo.

Rabbeinu Yehudah, one of the baalei Tosafos (Tosafos, Berachos 26b s.v. Ta’ah), rules that, even though he forgot Yaaleh Veyavo, he fulfilled his obligation of to daven mincha and there is no tefillas tashlumin. On the other hand, the scholars of Provence require a tefillas tashlumin; without Yaaleh Veyavo he has not fulfilled the requirement to daven (quoted in Rosh, Berachos 4:2).

The conclusion of the Shulchan Aruch is that, in this instance, he should daven the extra prayer after Rosh Chodesh as a voluntary prayer, in order to avoid the halachic dispute.

In the same way, we should view the question that we asked about someone who omitted Vesein tal umatar in mincha on erev Shabbos. If he did not fulfill the requirements of tefillah, he is required to daven a tefillas tashlumin after Friday night maariv to fulfill his missed tefillah. However, if he fulfilled his obligation to daven, but is missing only his prayer for rain, nothing is accomplished by davening a Shabbos tefillah a second time, since he will not be reciting Vesein tal umatar in the replacement shemoneh esrei.

However, this situation cannot be resolved with a voluntary tefillah, because we cannot recite voluntary prayers on Shabbos. Therefore, he will not recite an extra tefillah because of the rule of safek berachos lehakeil –we do not recite berachos when it is uncertain that they are required (Shu”t Har Tzvi, Orach Chayim 1:54; Halichos Shelomoh, Tefillah 8:82; note that both of these sources mention that Rav Chayim Soloveichek of Brisk is quoted as disputing this conclusion).

A bit of a shlemiel

The later poskim discuss the following case: Someone davened shemoneh esrei on Rosh Chodesh and remembered to say Vesein tal umatar, but forgot to say Yaaleh Veyavo, which requires him to repeat the shemoneh esrei. When repeating the shemoneh esrei, he remembered to say Yaaleh Veyavo, but this time forgot to say Vesein tal umatar. He has now recited two tefillos, said both Yaaleh Veyavo and Vesein tal umatar, but has he fulfilled his davening requirement? The Steipler Gaon, who raises this question, says that he is uncertain what this person should do (Kehillas Yaakov, Berachos #12).

Conclusion

Rashi (Bereishis 2:5) points out that until Adam Harishon appeared, there was no rain in the world. Rain fell and grasses sprouted only after Adam was created, understood that rain was necessary for the world, and prayed to Hashem for rain. Whenever we pray for rain, we must always remember that the essence of prayer is drawing ourselves closer to Hashem.




Praying for a Rainy Day

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Whereas those living  in chutz la’aretz do not recite ve’sein tal umatar (the prayer for rain added to the bracha of Boreich Aleinu in the weekday shmoneh esrei) until the beginning of December, those living in Eretz Yisroel begin reciting this prayer on the Seventh of MarCheshvan. This difference in practice leads to many interesting shaylos:

Question #1:

Yankel, who lives in New York, is in aveilos l”a for his father and tries to lead services (colloquially often called “davening before the amud”) at every opportunity. He will be visiting Eretz Yisroel during the month of November. Does he recite the prayer according to the Eretz Yisroel practice while there? Which version does he recite in his quiet shmoneh esrei? Perhaps he should not even lead services while he is there?

Question #2:

Does someone attending Yeshiva or seminary in Eretz Yisroel recite ve’sein tal umatar according to the custom of Eretz Yisroel or according to the chutz la’aretz practice?

Question #3:

Reuven lives in Eretz Yisroel but is in chutz la’aretz on the Seventh of MarCheshvan (the day that in Eretz Yisroel they begin praying for rain). Does he begin reciting ve’sein tal umatar while in chutz la’aretz, does he wait until he returns to Eretz Yisroel to begin reciting it, or does he follow the practice of those who live in chutz la’aretz and not recite it until December?

In order to explain the halachic issues involved in answering these shaylos, we must first explain why we begin requesting rain on different dates in Eretz Yisroel than we do in chutz la’aretz.

The Gemara (Taanis 10a) concludes that in Eretz Yisroel one begins reciting ve’sein tal umatar on the Seventh of MarCheshvan, whereas in Bavel (where there was a large concentration of Jews) one begins reciting it on the sixtieth day after the autumnal equinox. (The Gemara’s method for calculating the autumnal equinox is based on what is called a sidereal year and differs from our familiar calculation, which is based on the solar year. The reason for this is unfortunately beyond the scope of this article.) Someone who recites ve’sein tal umatar during the summer months in Eretz Yisroel must repeat the Shemoneh Esrei since this request in the summer is inappropriate (Gemara Taanis 3b; Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 117:3).

WHY ARE THERE TWO DIFFERENT “RAIN DATES?”

Since Eretz Yisroel requires rain earlier than Bavel, Chazal instituted that the Jews there begin requesting rain shortly after Sukkos. In Bavel, where it was better if it began raining later, reciting ve’sein tal umatar was delayed until later. This practice is followed in all of chutz la’aretz, even in places where rain is not seasonal or where it is necessary to rain earlier — although the precise reason why all of chutz la’aretz follows the practice of Bavel is uncertain (see Rashi and Rosh to Taanis 10a; Shu”t Rosh 4:10; Tur and Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 117).

LOCAL CONDITIONS

If a city’s residents need rain at a different time in the year, can they or should they recite ve’sein tal umatar then or not? The Gemara (Taanis 14b) raises this question and cites the following story:

“The people of the city of Nineveh (in contemporary Iraq) sent the following shaylah to Rebbe: In our city we need rain even in the middle of the summer. Should we be treated like individuals and request rain in the bracha of Shma Koleinu or like a community and recite ve’sein tal umatar during the bracha of Boreich Aleinu? Rebbe responded that they are considered individuals and should request rain during the bracha of Shma Koleinu.”

This means that an individual or a city that needs rain during a different part of the year should recite ve’sein tal umatar during the bracha of Shma Koleinu, but not as part of Boreich Aleinu.

NATIONAL CONDITIONS

Is a country different from a city? In other words, if an entire country or a large region requires rain at a different time of the year, should its residents recite ve’sein tal umatar during the bracha of Boreich Aleinu? The Rosh raises this question and contends, at least in theory, that residents of a country should recite ve’sein tal umatar in Boreich Aleinu during the season that it requires rain. In his opinion, most of North America and Europe should recite ve’sein tal umatar during the summer months. Although we do not follow this approach, someone who recites ve’sein tal umatar at a time when his country requires rain should not repeat the Shmoneh Esrei but should rely retroactively on the opinion of the Rosh (Shulchan Aruch and Rama 117:2). Similarly, someone who recited ve’sein tal umatar as part of Boreich Aleinu in error after the Seventh of MarCheshvan should not repeat Shmoneh Esrei afterwards unless he lives in a country where rain is not necessary at this time (Birkei Yosef 117:3; cf. Shu”t Ohalei Yaakov #87 of Maharikash who disagrees.).

With this introduction, we can now begin to analyze the questions at hand. What should someone do if he lives in Eretz Yisroel but is in chutz la’aretz, or vice versa, during the weeks when there is a difference in practice between the two places? As one can imagine, much halachic literature discusses this shaylah. I found three early opinions, which I quote in chronological order:

Opinion #1. The earliest opinion I found, that of the Maharikash (Shu”t Ohalei Yaakov #87) and the Radbaz (Shu”t #2055), discusses specifically an Eretz Yisroel resident who left his wife and children behind while traveling to chutz la’aretz. (In earlier generations, it was common that emissaries from the Eretz Yisroel communities traveled to chutz la’aretz to solicit funds.) These poskim ruled that if the traveler left his family in Eretz Yisroel, he should begin reciting ve’sein tal umatar on the Seventh of MarCheshvan, following the practice of Eretz Yisroel, regardless of whether he himself was then in Eretz Yisroel or in chutz la’aretz. If he is single, or alternatively, if he is traveling with his family, then when he begins reciting ve’sein tal umatar depends on whether he will be gone for the entire rainy season. If he leaves Eretz Yisroel before the Seventh of MarCheshvan and intends to be gone until Pesach or later, then he recites ve’sein tal umatar according to the practice of chutz la’aretz. If he intends to return before Pesach, then he recites ve’sein tal umatar beginning on the Seventh of MarCheshvan even though he is in chutz la’aretz.

The key question here is, what is the criterion for determining when someone recites ve’sein tal umatar? These poskim contend that it depends on his personal need. If his immediate family is in Eretz Yisroel and therefore requires rain already on the Seventh of MarCheshvan, he begins reciting ve’sein tal umatar then even though he himself is in chutz la’aretz. This is considered that he has a personal need for rain (Shu”t Igros Moshe, Orach Chayim 2:102).

Opinion #2. The Pri Chodosh (Orach Chayim 117) quotes the previous opinion (of the Maharikash and the Radbaz) and disputes with them, contending that only one factor determines when the traveler begins reciting ve’sein tal umatar – how long he plans to stay abroad. If he left Eretz Yisroel intending to be away for at least a year, he should consider himself a resident of chutz la’aretz (for this purpose) and begin reciting ve’sein tal umatar in December. If he intends to stay less than a year, he should begin reciting ve’sein tal umatar on the Seventh of MarCheshvan. Furthermore, the Pri Chodosh states that whether one leaves one’s immediate family behind or not does not affect this halacha.

These two approaches disagree what determines when an individual recites ve’sein tal umatar. According to Opinion #1 (the Maharikash and the Radbaz), the main criterion is whether one has a personal need for rain as early as the Seventh of MarCheshvan. According to the Opinion #2 (the Pri Chodosh), the issue is whether one is considered a resident of Eretz Yisroel or of chutz la’aretz.

According to this analysis of Opinion #2, a resident of chutz la’aretz who intends to spend a year in Eretz Yisroel begins reciting ve’sein tal umatar on the Seventh of MarCheshvan whereas if he intends to stay less than a year he follows the practice of chutz la’aretz (Pri Megadim; Mishnah Berurah; cf. however Halichos Shelomoh 8:28 pg. 107). However according to Opinion #1, he would being reciting ve’sein tal umatar on the Seventh of MarCheshvan if he or his family intend to spend any time during the rainy season in Eretz Yisroel. Thus, we already know some background to Question #2 above concerning a yeshiva bachur or seminary student in Eretz Yisroel. According to Opinion #1, they should follow the Eretz Yisroel practice, whereas according to Opinion #2, they should follow the chutz la’aretz practice if they intend to stay for less than a year.

Opinion #3. The Birkei Yosef quotes the two above-mentioned opinions and also other early poskim who follow a third approach, that the determining factor is where you are on the Seventh of MarCheshvan. (See also Shu”t Dvar Shmuel #323.) This approach implies that someone who is in Eretz Yisroel on the Seventh of MarCheshvan should begin praying for rain even though he intends to return to chutz la’aretz shortly, and that someone who is in chutz la’aretz on that date should not, even though he left his family in Eretz Yisroel.

Dvar Shmuel and Birkei Yosef explain that someone needs rain where he is, and it is not dependent on his residence. Birkei Yosef points out that if there is a severe drought where he is located it does not make any difference whether he lives elsewhere; he will be a casualty of the lack of water. This was certainly true in earlier generations where water supply was dependent on local wells. Even today, when water is supplied via piping from large reservoirs, this opinion would seemingly still rule that the halacha is determined by where one is located, and not one’s residence.

Opinion #3 (the Birkei Yosef’s approach) is fairly similar to that of Opinion #1 (the Maharikash and the Radbaz) in that both approaches see the determining factor to be temporary need and not permanent residency. However, these two opinions dispute concerning several details, including what is the ruling of someone in chutz la’aretz whose family remains in Eretz Yisroel. According to Opinion #1, this person begins ve’sein tal umatar on the Seventh of MarCheshvan, whereas Opinion #3 contends that he begins only when the other bnei chutz la’aretz do.

Why does Opinion #3 disregard his family being in Eretz Yisroel as a factor, whereas Opinion #1 is concerned? Birkei Yosef explains that praying for rain for one’s family when one is in chutz la’aretz is praying for an individual need, which is done in shma koleinu and not earlier in the shemoneh esrei since the rest of the community there has no need for rain. Opinion #1 presumably holds that praying for Eretz Yisroel when I am in chutz la’aretz is not considered praying for an individual even though my reason to pray for rain in Eretz Yisroel is personal.

After analyzing these three conflicting opinions, how do we rule? Although the later poskim, such as the Mishnah Berurah, refer to these earlier sources, it is unclear how they conclude halachically. (See Shu”t Tzitz Eliezer 6:38, which contains a careful analysis of the words of the Mishnah Berurah on this subject.) Thus, an individual should ask his Rav what to do in each case.

TRAVELING AND RETURNING

What does one do if he travels and returns within these days? Assuming that he began to recite ve’sein tal umatar on the Seventh of MarCheshvan because he was in Eretz Yisroel (and he followed those opinions that rule this way or he changed his plans), does he now stop reciting it upon his return to chutz la’aretz?

This question is raised by the Birkei Yosef (117:6), who rules that he continues reciting ve’sein tal umatar when he returns to chutz la’aretz.

What does one do if he is reciting ve’sein tal umatar and the community is not, or vice versa — and he would like to lead the services (“daven before the amud”)? Birkei Yosef rules that he should not lead the communal services; however, if he forgot and did so, he should follow his own version in the quiet Shmoneh Esrei and the community’s version in the repetition (Birkei Yosef 117:8). However, Rav Shlomoh Zalman Auerbach permitted him to lead the services (Halichos Shelomoh 5:21; note that according to Igros Moshe, Orach Chayim 2:23, 29; 4:33 he should not lead the services.).

Let us now examine some of the shaylos we raised above:

Question #1:

Yankel, who lives in New York, is in aveilos l”a for his father and tries to lead services (colloquially but inaccurately usually called “davening before the amud”) at every opportunity. He will be visiting Eretz Yisroel during the month of November. Does he recite the prayer according to the Eretz Yisroel practice while there? Which version does he recite in his quiet shmoneh esrei? Is he even permitted to lead services while he is there?

According to all of the opinions involved, when davening privately Yankel should not recite ve’sein tal umatar until it is recited in chutz la’aretz since he does not live in Eretz Yisroel, does not have immediate family living there, and was not there on the Seventh of MarCheshvan. As explained above, according to most opinions, he should not lead the services since he is not reciting ve’sein tal umatar and the congregation is, whereas according to Rav Shlomoh Zalman Auerbach he may lead the services. According to Birkei Yosef, if he is in Eretz Yisroel on the Seventh of MarCheshvan he should begin to recite ve’sein tal umatar then since he now has a need for rain; he should continue to recite this prayer even when he returns to chutz la’aretz. However, in this case, when returning to chutz la’aretz he should not lead services according to most opinions since he is reciting ve’sein tal umatar and they are not. If he forgot and led the services, he should recite ve’sein tal umatar in the quiet Shmoneh Esrei but not in the repetition.

According to the Pri Chodosh (Opinion #2 above), if he is in Eretz Yisroel on the Seventh of MarCheshvan he should not recite ve’sein tal umatar since he lives in chutz la’aretz. Following this approach, he should not lead services when in Eretz Yisroel, but he may resume when he returns to chutz la’aretz.

Question #2:

Does someone attending Yeshiva or seminary in Eretz Yisroel who observes two days of Yom Tov recite ve’sein tal umatar according to the custom of Eretz Yisroel or according to the chutz la’aretz practice?

The answer to this question will depend on which of the above-quoted authorities one follows. According to Opinion #1 (the Maharikash, the Radbaz) and Opinion #3 (the Birkei Yosef), they should follow the practice of Eretz Yisroel since they need the rain while here even though they are not (yet) permanent Israeli residents. According to Opinion #2 (the Pri Chodosh), if they are staying for less than a year, they follow the practice of chutz la’aretz, whereas if they are staying longer they should begin reciting it from the Seventh of MarCheshvan.

Question #3:

Reuven lives in Eretz Yisroel but is in chutz la’aretz on the Seventh of MarCheshvan (the day that in Eretz Yisroel they begin praying for rain). Does he begin reciting ve’sein tal umatar while in chutz la’aretz, does he wait until he returns to Eretz Yisroel, or does he follow the practice of those who live in chutz la’aretz?

According to Opinions # 1 and #2, he should follow the practice of those living in Eretz Yisroel, but for different reasons. According to Opinion #1, the reason is because he knows that he will return to Eretz Yisroel during the rainy season and therefore follows this approach. According to Opinion #2, since he left Eretz Yisroel for less than a year he is considered an Eretz Yisroel resident.

Although it would seem that the Birkei Yosef would hold that he should not recite ve’sein tal umatar until the bnei chutz la’aretz do, it is not absolutely clear that he would disagree with the other poskim in this case. One could explain that he only ruled that one follows the bnei chutz la’aretz if he is there for an extended trip but not if he is there for only a few weeks that happen to coincide with the Seventh of MarCheshvan. For this reason, when someone recently asked me this shaylah, I ruled that he should follow the practice of those dwelling in Eretz Yisroel. Subsequently, I found this exact shaylah in Shu”t Tzitz Eliezer (6:38) and was very happy to find that he ruled the same way I had. (However, Halichos Shelomoh 8:19 rules that he should recite ve’sein tal umatar in Shma Koleinu and not in Boreich Aleinu.)

Rashi (Breishis 2:5) points out that until Adam HaRishon appeared, there was no rain in the world. Rain fell and grasses sprouted only after Adam was created, understood that rain was necessary for the world, and prayed to Hashem for rain.  Whenever we pray for rain, we must always remember that the essence of prayer, and indeed the purpose for rain, is drawing ourselves closer to Hashem.