Shabbat Parashat Chayei Sarah| 5764
Ask the Rabbi
Question: When a resident of Eretz Yisrael is in chutz la’aretz during the period between Cheshvan 7 and Dec. 5, does he say “v’ten tal u’matar livracha …” (=vtul) in Shmoneh Esrei?
Answer: The saying of vtul (asking for rain) was instituted according to the needs for rain of the major Jewish communities of the time. According to our minhag, the entire Diaspora follows the needs of Bavel, starting 60 days after the beginning of Tekufat Tishrei. The Rosh (Shut 4:10) felt that the concept of following Bavel should not apply to questions which depend on local needs. Thus, countries that require rain at other times of the year should be able to add vtul as appropriate. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 117:2- see Beit Yosef) agrees with the Rosh in principle, but not in practice, because of the minhag. He, therefore, says that someone from a place that needs rain earlier, should not ask for rain, but if he does, he may not have to repeat Shmoneh Esrei. He should, though, repeat it while having in mind that it count as a tefillat nedava (voluntary prayer). The Rama (ad loc.) says that he need not repeat Shmoneh Esrei.
The Mishna Berura (117:5) brings two opinions on whether a ben Eretz Yisrael visiting abroad should follow the needs of Eretz Yisrael or the place he finds himself. The rationale to follow Eretz Yisrael’s needs is more convincing when one will benefit directly from the rain which will hopefully fall during this period, either because his family is in Eretz Yisrael (Baer Heiteiv 117:4 in the name of Maharikash) or especially if he plans to return home during that year (ibid., in the name of Pri Chadash).
Because of the doubt that surrounds this matter, major poskim (Rav Sh.Z. Orbach and Rav Elyashiv, quoted in Yom Tov Sheni K’hilchato 10:2; Yalkut Yosef, Kitzur 117:15) suggest the following, simple solution. It is permitted to ask for rain during the summer in the beracha of Shomeia Tefilla, and it is sufficient to do the same during the winter (of importance for one who forgot vtul in its regular place). Thus, if one says vtul in Shomeia Tefilla during this intermediate period, he is safe according to all opinions. Rav Feinstein (Igrot Moshe, OC II, 102) ruled that at least those who plan to return to Israel during the year should say vtul in its regular place. This is because the Shulchan Aruch really agrees with the aforementioned Rosh and rules against him only because of the minhag. Since there is no clear minhag regarding travelers, one can say vtul after Cheshvan 7, in a country where rain is desirable at that time of the year. The former opinion is the safer one, especially for Sefardim (see Birkei Yosef, OC 117:5; Kaf Hachayim, OC 117:11).
One who started saying vtul in Israel and left with plans to return should continue to insert it in his tefilla (Birkei Yosef 117:6) at the very least in Shomeia Tefilla (Yom Tov Sheni K’hilchato 10:4). According to most authorities, a ben Eretz Yisrael in chutz la’aretz at this time can be a chazan. He should follow his accepted system in his silent Shmoneh Esrei but should omit vtul during chazarat hashatz (Ishei Yisrael 23:39).
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