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 Hilchos Tefilla 107 (page 268)
 מתחילת סימן קז עד סעיף ג

'Adding' to Shemoneh Esrei
Someone Who Realized During Shemoneh Esrei That He Already Davened
Someone Who is Unsure Whether He Davened Ma'ariv

'Adding' to Shemoneh Esrei
Shemoneh Esrei corresponds to the daily korban Tamid which could be offered only once. Offering the korban a second time would be a violation of ba'al tosif.  Likewise, a person who davened Shemoneh Esrei may not repeat that tefilla as an obligation. Nevertheless, it is permissible to repeat the tefilla as a voluntary act by adding something new, just as it is possible to offer a new korban voluntarily. The additional piece establishes the prayer as a supplication rather than an obligation.  According to the Mechaber, the addition must be inserted into one of the middle berachos (and not the first or last three, which are designated for praise alone) and should consist of supplications that are not regularly inserted. According to the Rama, the additional supplication should relate to a newly-perceived need on the part of the person who is davening.  The Rama also holds that a person should not daven a voluntary tefilla unless he can be fully focused on all of its berachos.
( סעיף א-ב, ס"ק ג, ד ו־ח, וביה"ל ד"ה אם, ד"ה ועל וד"ה ואם; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 15)
Someone who realized during Shemoneh Esrei that he already davened
Voluntary tefillos are not always permitted. They are forbidden on Shabbos and Yom Tov, just as voluntary korbanos are forbidden on those days. They cannot be recited for Mussaf (whether on Shabbos, Yom Tov, Rosh Chodesh or Chol Hamoed), just as a korban Mussaf cannot be brought voluntarily. If someone started a tefilla with intent to fulfill an obligation, but realized partway through that he was not obligated in that tefilla (e.g. he remembered that he already recited that prayer, or - if he was repeating Shemoneh Esrei because of an omission - he realized that he was not required to repeat the tefilla), he should stop immediately, even in middle of a beracha. Such a tefilla cannot be turned into a voluntary one because a tefilla must be either entirely obligatory or entirely voluntary, like a korban which cannot be half obligatory and half voluntary. (One opinion holds that if a person was in the middle of a beracha when he realized that he was not obligated in the tefilla, he should complete the beracha if he already recited baruch atah Hashem.)
( סעיף א, ס"ק ה-ז; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 11-12)
Someone who is unsure whether he davened Ma'ariv
Theoretically, someone who is not sure whether he already davened should be exempt from davening. The requirement to recite Shemoneh Esrei is mid'rabanon, and the halacha regarding all mitzvos d'rabonon is to be lenient. Nevertheless, he should daven, since he can do so as a voluntary tefilla. Before beginning to daven he should stipulate that this tefilla should fulfill his obligation if he is obligated or serve as a voluntary tefilla if he is not obligated. For Shacharis and Mincha it is not necessary to add anything to the tefilla, but he should add something for ma'ariv (which is not as clearly obligatory). There is an opinion which holds that someone one in this situation is required to daven Shacharis and Mincha. According to all, someone who is unsure if he davened a Shabbos or Yom Tov tefilla or Mussaf should not recite that tefilla as a volunteer, since those tefillos cannot be recited voluntarily. Someone who started a tefilla out of doubt, but partway through remembered that he had already davened, should complete the prayer. The poskim discuss whether or not he must to add to it. The poskim discuss whether someone who got confused about which beracha of Shemoneh Esrei he was up to should continue from the beracha he is uncertain about or whether he should resume at a place which has clearly not been recited yet.
( סעיף א, ס"ק ב, ה ו־ז, וביה"ל ד"ה על; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 2 ו־5)

  • A person who is primarily occupied with Torah study (i.e. he does not interrupt his study for any reason) must pause his studies to perform all mitzvos incumbent upon him, both d'oraisa and d'rabonon. Regarding tefilla, however, he must break only for kriyas Shema (with the berachos) which is a mitzva d'oraisa, but not for Shemoneh Esrei which is d'rabonon. Today there is no one who qualifies for this exemption.
  • Generally, an individual studying Torah does not need to interrupt for davening if he will have time to attend to it later. Someone who plans to daven alone at home should not start learning, but if he began he may continue.
  • Someone who teaches Torah to the public does not need to stop until close to the end of zman kriyas Shema/tefilla. If the group will disperse and will cease learning for the day as a result of his stopping, the leader should recite only the first pasuk of Shema and include a halacha or verse that mentions yetzias Mitzrayim in the lecture.


  • Compensating for missed tefillos

  • Compensating for intentionally missed tefillos

  • Why the present tefilla precedes the makeup tefilla



PLEASE NOTE:  The information in this email is for learning purposes only. Please review the Mishna Berura and Biurim U'Musafim before making a halachic decision. Hebrew words are occasionally transliterated to enable a smoother reading of the text. Common Ashkenazi pronunciation is generally used in these cases.