[Avodah] Announcing Tal Umatar

kennethgmiller at juno.com kennethgmiller at juno.com
Sun Dec 4 04:04:07 PST 2011

(I have tried to phrase this post so that it applies equally well to Ashkenazim who begin Tal Umatar on Cheshvan 7 and those who begin around Dec 5. My apologies if there are significant differences among the halachot of the Edot Hamizrach.)

When it comes time to begin saying Mashiv Haruach, there are several halachos which seem to place a great deal of importance on announcing it to the community. Among these halachos are:

- the choice of beginning it at Musaf rather than another tefila
- the requirement of some kind of verbal announcement
- poskim who address what a person at home should do
- not a halacha, but the minhag has developed an elaborate poem for the shaliach tzibur for the occasion.

(Most of the above relates to the *end* of Mashiv Haruach as well, except that there are complications resulting from the question of how to announce that we should stop praising HaShem for something. But it is still a major event.)

To my knowledge, absolutely none of this attends the beginning of Tal Umatar, and I'm curious why there is such a striking difference between these two interrelated tefilos.

Tal Umatar begins on a specific calendar date which is not a holiday in any sense of the word. It begins at Maariv, rather than the better-attended Shaharis. Someone will generally remind the tzibur to begin saying it, but this announcement is not mandated by halacha, and we would say Tal Umatar even if that announcement was forgotten.

I do understand that Tal Umatar is said *only* on weekdays. It cannot even be moved to the Shabbos before or after, because it would still have to be placed in Mincha Erev Shabbos or in Maariv Motzaei Shabbos, neither of which is as well attended as Shabbos morning. But why does that mean that it shouldn't have halachos similar to the start of Mashiv Haruach?

Let's keep in mind that an incorrect omission of Tal Umatar DOES require one to repeat his Shemoneh Esreh. Why do Chazal trust us to remember it, while insisting on such elaborate rituals for Mashiv Haruach?

Akiva Miller

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