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The Gemara in Sukkah 46a derives from the pasuk, “baruch Hashem, yom yom,” that there is an obligation to mention the significance of the day when we make certain berachos – namely davening and benching. That is the reason we recite the brachah of “Mekadesh HaShabbos” in Shemoneh Esrei and “R’tzei” in benching on Shabbos, and “Ya’aleh V’yavo” with the proper insert on Yom Tov.

The Yerushalmi in Brachos says that the tefillah that we are obligated to mention on Tisha B’Av is “Nachem Es Aveilei Tzion.” The Yerushalmi says that the proper place in Shemoneh Esrei to mention this tefillah is in the brachah of Avodah (R’tzei), since it is a tefillah that requests something for the future. The place to mention a tefillah that reflects something of the past is in the brachah of Hoda’ah (Modim). The Rif and the Rosh, at the end of Ta’anis, say that our custom is to mention Nachem in the brachah of Bonei Yerushalayim. They explain that this is permitted, as the Gemara in Avodah Zarah 8a says that one may insert a tefillah into any brachah of Shemoneh Esrei provided that it pertains to that brachah.

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The Ritva in Ta’anis 30a is bothered as to why our minhag is at odds with the Yerushalmi. He says that the Yerushalmi believed that the halacha that one may insert a tefillah into any brachah of Shemoneh Esrei only applies to someone who is praying for an individual cause or need. However, tefillos mentioned for public causes cannot be inserted into any of the brachos; rather they must be inserted either in Avodah or in Hoda’ah. The Ritva assumes that the Talmud Bavli argues that tefillos regarding public causes may be said in any brachah of Shemoneh Esrei. Therefore, our minhag is to recite Nachem in the brachah of Bonei Yerushalayim.

The Aruch Hashulchan (Orach Chaim 557:2) offers another suggestion as to why our minhag differs from the p’sak of the Yerushalmi to recite Nachem in R’tzei. He suggests that the Yerushalmi holds that the brachah of Bonei Yerushalayim and the following brachah of Es Tzemach Dovid are combined into one brachah. Therefore, the Yerushalmi could not suggest that Nachem be inserted into the brachah of Bonei Yerushalayim, since the brachah was, in that view, primarily addressing the malchus of the house of Dovid Hamelech.

The sefer Harirai Kedem suggests another explanation as to why our minhag is to say Nachem in the brachah of Bonei Yerushalayim – when the Yerushalmi says otherwise. He explains that there is a fundamental machlokes between the Yerushalmi and our minhag regarding what the aveilus on Tisha B’Av is for. The Yerushalmi believes that the aveilus and the tefillah of Nachem were primarily instituted for the loss of the avodah of the Beis HaMikdash and the korbanos that we can no longer sacrifice. Therefore, the Yerushalmi says that the appropriate place in Shemoneh Esrei to recite Nachem is in the brachah of Avodah.

Those who instituted our minhag believed that the main focus of the aveilus and the tefillah of Nachem is on the destruction of Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash. Many pesukim in Megillas Eichah are devoted to describing what the city of Yerushalayim was, and what became of it through the churban. Therefore, our minhag is to recite Nachem in the brachah of Bonei Yerushalayim.

The Taz in Orach Chaim 557 says that if one forgets to say Nachem in Bonei Yerushalayim, he should say it in the brachah of Shomei’a Tefillah. Many Achronim (Matei Yehudah, the Elya Rabba, and the Mishnah Berurah) do not agree with this p’sak and argue that since the Yerushalmi says that Nachem should be said in R’tzei, then that is its proper place. Although our minhag is to say it earlier in Bonei Yerushalayim, when one does not remember to say it there, he should then revert to the p’sak of the Yerushalmi and say it in R’tzei.

I want to suggest an explanation for why the Taz disagrees and posits that one should not say Nachem in R’tzei when he forgets it in Bonei Yerushalayim. Based on the explanation of the Harirai Kedem, the Yerushalmi fundamentally disagrees with our minhag regarding the main focus of the aveilus of Tisha B’Av. Our minhag is based on the belief that the aveilus of Tisha B’Av is for the destruction of the city of Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash, and not for the loss of the avodah. Accordingly, there is no reason to say Nachem in the brachah of R’tzei, which discusses the avodah. The Taz therefore ruled that if one forgets to say Nachem in Bonei Yerushalayim, he should say it in Shomei’a Tefillah – the brachah that befits all tefillos.

May we all be misabel on Yerushalayim, and be zocheh v’roeh besimchasa (Ta’anis 30b).

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Rabbi Fuchs learned in Yeshivas Toras Moshe, where he became a close talmid of Rav Michel Shurkin, shlit”a. While he was there he received semicha from Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, shlit”a. He then learned in Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn, and became a close talmid of Rav Shmuel Berenbaum, zt”l. Rabbi Fuchs received semicha from the Mirrer Yeshiva as well. After Rav Shmuel’s petira Rabbi Fuchs learned in Bais Hatalmud Kollel for six years. He is currently a Shoel Umaishiv in Yeshivas Beis Meir in Lakewood, and a Torah editor and weekly columnist at The Jewish Press.