[Avodah] ADHD and Havinenu

Kenneth Miller kennethgmiller at juno.com
Sun Mar 10 03:15:34 PDT 2013

When I consider various situations and the propriety of saying Havinenu, here's the roadblock I run into:

The full Shemoneh Esray is so familiar to me,  and Havinenu is so unfamiliar, that - to my regret - Havinenu is of little or no advantage. But clearly, Chazal must seen the advantage to be significant,  at least on occasion,  or else it would never have been composed. So let's work with that.

Now let's remember that for the entire winter,  the inability to say Tal Umatar puts Havinenu out of reach, despite the significant advantage it provides. Amazing! Would it have been so difficult to add a word or two, to enable it for the winter? Why was this denied in the winter, to those who benefit from it in the summer? 

Perhaps there is something special in this text which brooks no modification. If so, then we're out of luck, because Tal Umatar can't be added, and its absence is m'akev even b'dieved.

But then what about Atah Chonantanu? Someone who needs the significant advantage of Havinenu on Motzaei Shabbos must forego that advantage, and daven the full Shmoneh Esray because there's no room in Havinenu to add anything about havdala --- even though the lack of havdala is NOT m'akev!

This is what confounds me about Havinenu. We often determine the b'dieved acceptability of an act based on whether or not it contains all the otherwise-meakev elements. (For example, under pressing circumstances, one could deliberately omit Pesukei D'zimra from Shacharis, but never Sh'ma.) Yet here we have a tefilla which was specifically designed for pressing circumstances, and it is unavailable on Motzaei Shabbos even if pressing circumstances arise.

This throws a monkey wrench into my entire logical thought process. R' Micha asked:

> I read a blog where the author admits that he wasn't davening
> regularly anymore, and so decided to switch to a shortened
> "Siddur" that starts with Birkhos Shema and uses Havinenu --
> "because it's better than not davening at all."
> ...
> But I was wondering if he would be yotzei at all. Okay,
> lekhatchilah it can't be advised, perhaps not in general,
> perhaps not even one-on-one to people like this blogger, but
> bedi'eved? ... Would they be yotz'im?

So, I suggest the following as a yardstick with which to answer the question at hand: The halacha is very clear that Havinenu is unavailable on Motzaei Shabbos. Even for one who needs the significant advantage that Havinenu provides, he may not use it. But what if he DID? Is he yotzay or not? My logic says that he ought to be yotzay, because he is not missing any elements which are meakev. But if that is true, then why was he specifically told NOT to do it?

Akiva Miller
How to Sleep Like a Rock
Obey this one natural trick to fall asleep and stay asleep all night.

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