Thursday, January 11, 2007


The following insight is brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Yerushalayim
QUESTION: In the wintertime Shemoneh Esreh, we mention the praise of Hash-m Who brings rain -- "Morid ha'Geshem" -- in the blessing of Gevuros ("Atah Gibor..."). The custom among Sefardic Jews (Edot ha'Mizrach), as well as those who pray according to Nusach Sefard (such as Chasidim), is to mention "Morid ha'Tal" in the summertime in the blessing of Gevuros (see previous Insight). This is also the custom in Eretz Yisrael, based on the practice of the Vilna Ga'on and the Ba'al ha'Tanya. Most other Ashkenazic communities (outside of Eretz Yisrael) do not make this addition in the Shemoneh Esreh in the summertime.
Many Sidurim vowelize the word "Morid ha'*Geshem*" with a Segol (the "eh" sound) and not "Morid ha'Gashem" with a Kamatz (the "aw" or "ah" sound). This seems grammatically correct, because only at the end of a sentence (or at the semi-sentence break marked by an Esnachta) is the Segol under the Gimel replaced by a Kamatz. The words "Morid ha'Geshem" are in the middle of a sentence in the Shemoneh Esreh, and thus the word "ha'Geshem" should retain its Segol. The fact that the word "ha'Geshem" does not mark the end or pause in a sentence is evident from the words of the TUR (OC 114). The Tur writes that the reason why we recite "Morid ha'Geshem" immediately before the words "Mechalkel Chayim" (and not at another point in the blessing) is because rain is also a form of Kalkalah (sustenance) and Parnasah (livelihood). Hence, the mention of rain is the beginning of the passage which mentions Kalkalah, and it is not the end of the previous passage ("Atah Gibor...").
However, there is an apparent inconsistency in the Sidurim. In most Sidurim which include the text "Morid ha'Tal" (for the summertime), the word "Tal" is spelled with a Kamatz (pronounced "ha'Tawl" in the Ashkenazic pronunciation) and not with a Patach ("ha'Tahl"). According to the rules of grammar, the word should have a Patach and not a Kamatz since it comes in the middle of a sentence and not at the end. When the word "Tal" appears in the Torah, the letter "Tes" usually is vowelized with a Patach, which changes to a Kamatz only when it is at the end of a sentence or at a pause marked by an Esnachta (see, for example, Shemos 11:9, Devarim 32:2). Since "Morid ha'Tal" is recited in place of "Morid ha'Geshem" and is in the middle of a sentence, why is the word "Tal" spelled with a Kamatz and not a Patach? If the Sidurim consider "Morid ha'Tal" (with a Kamatz") to be the end of the sentence, why do they not spell "Morid ha'Gashem" with a Kamatz as well? [CLICK WHERE IT SAYS "READ MORE" FOR THE ANSWERS]

(a) RAV MOSHE FEINSTEIN zt'l (IGROS MOSHE OC 4:40) writes that the Kamatz of "Tal" is correct because this phrase is indeed at the end of the sentence (as many Sidurim place a period after "Morid ha'Tal"). Accordingly, it is proper to say "Morid ha'Gashem" with a Kamatz as well, in contrast to the spelling in many Sidurim. Such an opinion is cited by the LIKUTEI MAHARICH. This is the way the word is punctuated ("ha'Gashem") in the authoritative Redelheim Sidur.
(b) Others, however, point out that the text of "ha'Geshem" (with a Segol) appears in all early Sidurim, of all Jewish communities, as well as most current Sidurim (except for those based on the Redelheim Sidur). Moreover, as mentioned above, the logical flow of the sentence clearly indicates that "Morid ha'Geshem" is not the end of the sentence (regardless of whether or not the printer placed a period there). According to SEFER MECHALKEL CHAYIM, Rav Moshe Feinstein himself retracted his opinion. Why, then, do most Sidurim spell "ha'Tal" with a Kamatz and not a Patach?
The author of SEFER SHA'AR HA'KOLEL, printed in the back of the SHULCHAN ARUCH HA'RAV (who explains the Nusach of the Sidur of the Ba'al ha'Tanya) suggests that the word "Tal" is spelled with a Kamatz because it is not part of the regular text of the Shemoneh Esreh as established by the Anshei Keneses ha'Gedolah (as indicated by the fact that many Ashkenazic communities do not say it, and the Gemara says that it is not obligatory). Rather, it was added to the text of the Shemoneh Esreh by the Mekubalim. As such, it is a separate insertion that stands by itself and is not part of the phrase that follows, and therefore it has a Kamatz and not a Patach.
(c) RAV YAKOV KAMINETZKY zt'l (IYUNIM B'MIKRA, p. 26) suggests that "Morid ha'Geshem" is part of the sentence which continues with "Mechalkel Chayim," as the TUR says, because rain brings Kalkalah and Parnasah. In contrast, the words "Morid ha'Tal" do not refer to the Parnasah-providing elements of dew. Rather, they refer to the Tal of Techiyas ha'Mesim, the Tal which will resurrect the dead. It is mentioned at this point because it follows the phrase "*Mechayeh Mesim* Atah Rav l'Hoshi'a." As such, it is actually a continuation of the previous sentence and it does not flow into the following sentence. Therefore, it is appropriate to pause after "Morid ha'Tal" before the phrase "Mechalkel Chayim," which discusses a different topic. Accordingly, "Morid ha'Tal" is the end of the previous sentence which discusses Techiyas ha'Mesim, while "Morid ha'Geshem" flows into the following sentence which discusses Parnasah! (Even though the verse in Tehilim 68:10 refers to "*Geshem* Techiyah" (see Targum there), that is not the Geshem to which we refer in the Shemoneh Esreh.)
(d) Grammarians point out that this may not be an inconsistency at all. Although the Segol of "Geshem" becomes a Kamatz only when the word completes a sentence or a clause (either at the end of a verse or at an Esnachta pause), the Patach of "Tal" is different. It becomes a Kamatz even at a "semi-stop," such as when the word "Tal" has the cantillation "Zakef-Katan" (see, for example, Shemos 16:13 and Devarim 33:13). (It is easier to turn a Patach into a Kamatz than a Segol into a Kamatz.) Since a slight pause (a "comma") follows the words "Morid ha'Tal" in the blessing, even though it is not a full stop the word "Tal" acquires a Kamatz.
(It is also possible that the pronunciation of the word in rabbinical texts may differ slightly from the Biblical pronunciation. Perhaps in the times of the Mishnah, the word "Tal" was commonly pronounced with a Kamatz, like "Par" or "Har," unless it was associated with the word that followed it, such as "Tal ha'Shamayim" or "Tal Techiyah.")


joshwaxman said...

regarding point (d), see this post

Anonymous said...

Even to those who hold that the reason for the Segol is because it is the middle of the sentence, it would appear that when we say "tefilas Geshem", there, the sentence ends at Hagashem, therefore, shouldn't everyone agree that you should say Hagashem?

Dror Maor said...

From what I recall the Tur saying (and I don't have the sefer in front of me now,) it's mashma punkt farkert (just the opposite seems true.)
I think the Tur says that if one forgot to say "mashiv haruach", but remembered still during this brocha of gvuros, he should recite it right when he remembers, and doesn't need to go back to "mechalkel chayim b'chesed", rather he should just continue where he was before.
It's therefore mashma (appears) that "mashiv haruach" is a statement bifnei atzma (an independent statement) - which means it should require the esnachta, and thefore be "hagoshem". I believe that the Igros Moshe zt"l paskens it should be hagoshem as well.
Now, I once saw R. Yaakov Kaminetzky zt"l who says that it should be "hageshem", based on a few svoros (logical reasoning). He then bevorns (keeps safe from) the kasha (question) above of "morid hatol" vs. "morid hatal", and says that he saw in an old siddur "morid hatal". So my question is: Do we follow R. Moshe zt"l, who was the posek hador, and R. Yaakov admitted that R. Moshe was greater than him, or do we go like R. Yaakov tz"l who l'ch'oyra (apparantly) was the godol in dikduk?

Ben said...

The Ritva on 2a writes that the reason Chazal instituted that we recite geshamim in the Bracha of techias hameisim is because rain is akin to techias hameisim in two ways. First, one plants a seed in the ground and then it sprouts forth a sapling with many layers, and this is similar to techias hameisim regarding which the Gemara in Kesubos states that the tzaddikim will arise wearing clothing. Second, when there is no rain and people’s livelihoods are affected, they feel like they are dead, and HaShem resurrects them by sending rain. Based on this exposition, we can suggest that one should say hageshem with a kamatz, because we are saying that mechayeh meisim atah rav lehoshiya, and akin to techias hameisim is the fact that You are mashiv haruach umorid hageshem. Yet, there is room to say that one should recite the word hageshem with a patach, because sustenance is like techias hameisim, and we say that you are mashiv haruach umorid hageshem, and You are mechalkel chaim bechesed. (This is like was mentioned in Kollel Iyun Hadaf from the Tur).

Dror, regarding your question about Rav Moshe zt”l, the Kollel wrote explicitly “According to SEFER MECHALKEL CHAYIM, Rav Moshe Feinstein himself retracted his opinion.”

Dror Maor said...

Ben: woops, didn't see the "read more" link to Iyun Hadaf - but what about the Tur who seems to indicate that Mashiv Haruach is its own phrase?

Anonymous said...

Many years ago I saw a kuntres {titled Maishev HaRuach} and he quoted from many gedolim including R. Moshe, Rav Elyashiv, and the Brisker Rov [R. Velvel] that it is correct to use a kometz. He also brought many proofs. for many years the siddurim wrote it with a kometz. Then everyone wanted to prove that he was smarter than the other and it was changed to a patech.

Binyamin said...

Can anyone actually tell me who this SEFER MECHALKEL CHAYIM is written by and if it has any credibility at all!

How many times have we heard, when people don't like a psak, a fabricated story about the posek retracting even though it appears nowhere in his authentic writings!

Truth is, I'm not even sure if it's authentic that Rav Yaakov held to say HagEshem.

Bottom line is, it's been minhag Ahskenaz and more specifically minhag Lita (The undisputed centre of Torah Jewry in the last few hundred years (not that there wasn't torah elsewhere- of course there was!))to say HagOshem, for centuries now. And tell me all you wiseguys who know so much - there weren't any beki'im in diduk, tefillah and in Torah in general there, in the past few hundred years?!. Of course they where! And, they didn't see the need to say gEshem!

The Sefardim have their own (different) way to Ahskenazim, always have had since we all went into this deep, dark golus. You can ask them for their reasoning. But it doesn't change the Minhag Ashkenaz. Chassidim, etc. just adopted from the Sefardim, so nothing to answer for there!

In truth, this whole discussion is ridiculous and is actually what I like to call psueo-Torah - people trying to make out like they are such gedolim by debating nonsense.

This was the minhag of REAL gedolim of previous generations, and it is "Meimayhem SheShosinu" ( THEIR Waters which we drink) - well at least we should be drinking their waters, which unfortunately is not happening so much anymore. Let us accept and practice their minhag orrectly.

BTW, could those who so quickly make reference to "very old siddurim" having HagEshem, provide tangible proof of such (authentic manuscrips with nekudos, not reprints that have been edited by publishers). I'll bet that if it were looked into properly, no such proof exists, and the ones that do, are dubious subjects of heavy debate.

chaim mordche said...

Here is a link to an excellent recent article on this topic that goes through the who's and why's of this topic quite extensively -
[dont' forget to read the footnotes!]
also i would not rely lmaaseh on the mechalkel chaim's claims that rav moshe retracted. if he would have, it would be listed in more reliable sources. many others including rav elyashiv said gashem as well. I think he is confusing it with rav shlomo zalman auerbach who is quoted in halichos shlomo as retracting after reading birchos chaim (by the same author - r chaim krauss).
On that topic - Here is a link to a teshuva by Rabbi Y.Y. Fischer zt"l of the Eidah Charedis, who writes that he refused to give the Birchos Chaim his haskama, as it was misleading and he found sources for Gashem from Siddurim printed 5 years before Satanov (the maskil he cites as the mekor for Gashem) was born. Worthwhile to see - Shu"t Even Yisrael vol. 8, 9 -