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 Hilchos Tefilla 114-115 (page 285)
 מסעיף ט עד סימן קטז

Habituating Oneself to Changes in Tefilla
Ninety Tefillos or Ninety Repetitions
Why Atah Chonantanu (Havdalah) is Recited in Atah Chonein

Habituating oneself to changes in tefilla
As discussed, once a person has recited ninety tefillos with a particular change incorporated into them, a chazakah is established - i.e. an assumption that the person is now habituated to the change and will not need to repeat Shemoneh Esrei in case of doubt.  According to the Mechaber, merely reciting the new phrase (as opposed to the whole tefilla) ninety times is enough to create this new chazakah. For example, once someone says mechayei meisim atah rav l'hoshia morid hatal ninety times (whether consecutively or over several days), it is assumed that he will say the correct phrase in tefilla from then on. Some poskim require one hundred and one repetitions for the chazakah, corresponding to the one hundred and one tefillos that are generally recited in thirty days (see yesterday's page). This opinion is based on the teaching of Rebbe Meir, who holds that a bull that gores three times in one day becomes conditioned to goring ( moad) to the same extent as one that gored three times over three days. Likewise, reciting the phrase multiple times in one day can create the same chazakah as if the words had been recited over the course of many days.
( סימן קיד, סעיף ט וס"ק לט, מא ו־מב; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 44, 45 ו־49)
Ninety tefillos or ninety repetitions
Some poskim disagree with the previous opinion and insist on thirty days -- or ninety tefillos - for a person to become habituated to a new phrase. These poskim hold that a bull does not become a moad by goring three times; instead, the three incidents of goring simply demonstrate that the animal naturally gores ( moad). This opinion remains firm in the view that repeated rehearsals over a short period of time are not adequate to create a new habit, and a longer period of practice is required to establish a chazakah. According to some contemporary poskim, it is advisable not to rehearse a new phrase ninety (or one hundred and one) times.  That way, a person can avoid the question of whether or not he must repeat the tefilla if a doubt arises about whether the correct phrase was said.
( סימן קיד, ביה"ל ד"ה אם; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 44 ו־45)
Why Atah Chonantanu (Havdalah) is recited in Atah Chonein
Chazal instituted that Havdalah ( Atah Chonantanu) be recited in the fourth beracha ( Atah Chonein) in the Shemoneh Esrei of motzai Shabbos. One reason why it was placed specifically in this beracha is that intelligence, the topic of this beracha, is essential to distinguish between kodesh and chol. A second reason this beracha was chosen is that it is the first of the berachos that contain requests. Personal requests are forbidden on Shabbos, and Havdalah is necessary before we begin our weekday requests. A third reason it was placed there is that zerizim makdimim lemitzvos (the earnest rush to do mitzvos), so Havdalah was put into the first "weekday beracha" that we recite after Shabbos. The Gra notes that Havdalah was purposely placed in the middle of the beracha -- after we acknowledge that Hashem grants us wisdom and before we begin our weekday requests -- to align with the first two reasons given here.
( סימן קטו, ס"ק א; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 6-7)

  • After changes are made in Shemoneh Esrei, such as from morid hageshem to morid hatal, people sometimes question whether or not they said the proper words. Until the passage of thirty days or ninety tefillos, whichever comes first, it is assumed that a person said what they were accustomed to saying before the change. Once this time has passed, a person has had a chance to become habituated to the new phrasing and it is assumed (chazakah) that the correct words were said.
  • If a person is doubt as to whether he included a special segment of davening, and a child who was standing next to him when he davened claims that he heard the man say the correct words, the child can be trusted.


  • The date to begin v'sein tal umatar

  • Does a traveler recite v'sein tal umatar according to his home town or current location?

  • Davening for an individual choleh



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.