‘If He Did Not Say He Must Repeat’
Our sugya is the source for some of the most well-known laws in hilchos tefillah: those dictating what a person should do if he forgets to say ya’aleh v’yavo in Shemoneh Esreh on Rosh Chodesh or Chol Hamoed (Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 422:1).
If he notices his mistake before beginning Modim, he should recite ya’aleh v’yavo immediately. If he notices any time between the beginning of Modim and the end of Shemoneh Esreh, he must return to Retzeh and proceed from there. If he is accustomed to reciting petitions such as “Elokai netzor” at the end of Shemoneh Esreh, this is considered part of his Shemoneh Esreh and he may still return to Retzeh. If he only realizes after completing the entire Shemoneh Esreh (even if he has not yet taken three steps back), he must return to the beginning of Shemoneh Esreh.
A Different Mistake Each Time
What about a doubly forgetful person – someone who repeats Shemoneh Esreh because he forgot to say ya’aleh v’yavo and then realizes after his second Shemoneh Esreh that he accidentally said “morid hagesehem” in place of “morid hatal”? Does he need to say Shemoneh Esreh yet a third time?
Did He Or Did He Not?
At the heart of this question lies another one: How do our Sages view a tefillah that lacked ya’aleh v’yavo or any of the other insertions whose omission requires one to repeat Shemoneh Esreh? Do they see it as almost “non-existent” – as if the person had not davened at all? Or perhaps they do consider it a tefillah, but nonetheless, the person must repeat Shemoneh Esreh in order to recite the omitted insertion.
If we take the view that the tefillah is essentially “non-existent” or “worthless” (as if he had not davened), then the person who forgot ya’aleh v’yavo and confused morid hagesehem with morid hatal must daven a third time. However, if we take the view that the Shemoneh Esreh without ya’aleh v’yavo, for example, is still a tefillah, then the person need not daven a third time since each tefillah completed what the other one lacked. (The person did not confuse morid hagesehem with morid hatal in the first tefillah and did say ya’aleh v’yavo in the second tefillah.)
Leading poskim throughout the generations have debated this issue. Many rule that the person in our case need not daven again (Gur Aryeh Yehudah O.C. 17; Mekor Chaim 108; Birkas Habayis 17:29) while others rule that he must (Mateh Efraim 582:21, Magen Giborim 104, Elef Hamagen s.k. 9; Resp. Likutei Tzvi 10; Resp. Maharshag O.C. 1:52; et. al.).
Will This Time Be Any Better?
The author of Yagel Yaakov (O.C. 23) presents a different argument. Even if we were to consider both tefillos invalid, he writes, we should still not instruct this person to daven a third time since if he erred twice, he will most likely err a third time. Only if he is confident that he will certainly not err this time should he daven again.
Contemporary poskim (Levushei Mordechai Tinyana, O.C. 12; Resp. Har Tzvi O.C. 1:54; Minchas Yitzchak 10:40) suggest that a person should daven a third time and make a condition that if he is required to daven again, this Shemoneh Esreh should fulfill his obligation, and if he is not required to daven again, his tefillah should be considered a voluntary tefillas nedavah. All opinions are thereby satisfied.
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