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Shabbat Parashat Chayei Sara 5774

Ask the Rabbi: Continuing to Pray for Rain During a Trip Abroad

Harav Daniel Mann

Question: I will be traveling outside of Israel, leaving after Israelis start asking for rain (“v’ten tal u’matar livracha” = vtul) and before those in chutz la’aretz start (7 Cheshvan – Dec. 4 or 5). Do I say vtul while abroad?


Answer: We will start with a brief overview of the question of saying v’ten tal u’matar outside Israel during this time period (see Living the Halachic Process, vol. II, A-11) before relating to your specific question.

The Rabbis instituted saying vtul according to the needs for rain of the time’s major Jewish communities. The entire Diaspora follows the needs of Bavel, starting 60 days after the beginning of Tekufat Tishrei (Dec. 4 or 5). The Rosh (Shut 4:10) rules that countries that require rain at other times of the year can insert the request accordingly. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 117:2) agrees with the Rosh in principle, but not in practice because of the minhag, and he treats the case of one who said it at that time as a doubt, so that he repeats Shemoneh Esrei as a voluntary prayer. The Rama (ad loc.) does not require repeating Shemoneh Esrei.

The Mishna Berura (117:5) cites two opinions on whether one who resides in Israel but is abroad on and after 7 Cheshvan follows the Israeli schedule or that of the place where he is. The rationale to follow Israel’s needs is more convincing if he will benefit from Israel’s rain, either if his family is there (Baer Heiteiv 117:4 in the name of Maharikash) or he plans to return during the year (ibid., in the name of the Pri Chadash).

Because of the doubt that surrounds this matter, major poskim (Rav S.Z. Orbach and Rav Elyashiv, quoted in Yom Tov Sheni K’Hilchato 10:2; Yalkut Yosef, Kitzur 117:15) suggest to says vtul in Shomeia Tefilla during the questionable period and is safe according to all opinions. This works because it is permitted to ask for rain during the summer in the beracha of Shomeia Tefilla, and it is sufficient b’di’eved to do so during the winter. Rav Feinstein (Igrot Moshe, OC II:102) implies that Israelis visiting countries where rain is desirable at that time should recite vtul in its regular place. However, the former opinion is preferable, especially for Sephardim (see Birkei Yosef, OC 117:5; Kaf HaChayim, OC 117:11).

We now move to your question. The Chida (Birkei Yosef, OC 117:6) says that one who started saying vtul in Israel and left with plans to return should continue to recite it normally. He explains that it is like a farce to begin saying it and then stop. There is a similar concept in the gemara (Taanit 4b-5a) regarding the discussion how to introduce “mashiv haruach … in chutz la’aretz, where we treat two days like the possible end of Sukkot. Some say we should start saying “mashiv haruach” on the first day and then stop for some tefillot before resuming it on the second day. The gemara concludes that once we start, we do not stop. This, though, is not a halachic proof to the Chida’s concept, as commentaries explain the ruling differently (see Ritva, Turei Even ad loc.). Also, there is logic to distinguish between how the Rabbis institute the matter in the first place and what one does in the special situation of visiting a place with a different practice.

In any case, the Chida’s ruling that avoiding the “farce” of stopping what one started overcomes the rule to follows the practices of a host community – during the silent Shemoneh Esrei is the accepted one (see Ishei Yisrael 23:38). According to most authorities, an Israeli in chutz la’aretz at this time can be a chazan, in which case he says vtul in his silent Shemoneh Esrei but omits it during chazarat hashatz (ibid. 39).

The logic of continuing what one started does not suffice for one who has a fundamental reason to stop asking for rain. Therefore, an Israeli who is moving permanently abroad during this time and a ben chutz la’aretz who started saying vtul while visiting Israel in deference to local practice cease doing so when they leave Israel (Yein Hatov, OC 35; B’tzel Hochochma I:62).

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