April 13, 2024
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Nacheim at Every Tefillah on Tisha B’Av?

Ashkenazim are so accustomed to reciting Nacheim only at Mincha of Tisha B’Av that they are shocked to discover that most Sephardic Jews recite Nacheim at each of the tefillot on Tisha B’Av. Rav Ovadia Yosef (Teshuvot Yechave Da’at 1:44), however, sets forth no less than four compelling reason to include Nacheim at Arvit and Shacharit as well as Mincha on Tisha B’Av.

Four Compelling Reasons to Say Nacheim at Every Tefillah

Rav Ovadia begins by citing the Talmud Yerushalmi (Brachot 4:3) that describes reciting Nacheim as “mei’ein hame’ora,” the appropriate tefillah for the occasion. Both the Rosh (Ta’anit 4:34) and the Orchot Chaim (Hilchot Tisha B’Av number 16) note that the Yerushalmi’s usage of the term “mei’ein hame’ora” implies that Nacheim is appropriate for each and every tefillah of the day, just as Ya’aleh V’Yavo is appropriate for all of the tefillot for Rosh Chodesh and Chol Hamoed.

A second compelling reason is the fact that the ancient and authoritative siddur of Rav Amram Gaon (2:132a) records the practice to recite Nacheim at every tefillah of Tisha B’Av. The fact that Rav Amram Gaon records this practice teaches that there is a very old tradition to say Nacheim at every tefillah and that it likely represents the original practice instituted by Chazal.

The third reason is that Maran Rav Yosef Karo states in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 557:1) that Nacheim is recited on Tisha B’Av. The fact that he does not limit Nacheim to Mincha leads both the Pri Chadash and Maran HaChida (Birkei Yosef 557:1) to interpret Maran as saying that Nacheim is recited at every tefillah. The Lechem Mishneh (Hilchot Ta’ani’ot 5:10) makes the same inference from the Rambam (Hilchot Tefillah 2:14), who mentions that Nacheim is recited on Tisha B’Av and does not distinguish between Mincha and the other tefillot of the day.

Finally, the fact the Minhag Yerushalayim is to recite Nacheim at each of the tefillot clinches the point for Rav Ovadia. The fact that this is the practice in Jerusalem is noted by the aforementioned Pri Chadash and Chida.

The North African Practice: Nacheim Only at Mincha

The Rama (557:1), however, notes the accepted practice of Ashkenazic Jews is to recite Nacheim only at Mincha. This remains the uncontested Ashkenazic practice until today. The Rama explains that since the Gemara (Ta’anit 29a) states that the Beit Hamikdash was set on fire toward the end of Tisha B’Av, this is the appropriate time to pray for the nechama, comforting of Tzion.

The Vilna Gaon (Biur HaGra 555:2) explains that at the time of Mincha, the heavenly judgment for the destruction was pronounced, making it the appropriate time for condolence. The Ritva (Teshuvot number 63) adds that until Mincha, the Jewish people are like someone who lost a close relative and has not yet buried him. After Mincha we are likened to one who has just buried the deceased relative, making it the proper time for condolence. The Birkei Yosef (559:7) adds in the name of the Ari z”l that it is at the time of Mincha that Mashiach will be born.

While it makes sense for Ashkenazim to recite Nacheim only at Mincha, why do Jews whose ancestors lived in North Africa follow the ruling of the Rama and not Maran, who indicates in the Shulchan Aruch that Nacheim should be recited at all of the tefillot?

Rav Mordechai Lebhar (Magen Avot, Orach Chaim 557) defends the North African practice. He notes that both the Avudraham (page 257) and Rav Karo in his Beit Yosef commentary to the Tur (Orach Chaim 557) note that the minhag is to recite Nacheim only at Mincha. Rav Lebhar notes that Rav Karo famously writes in his introduction to the Shulchan Aruch that he does not intend to override pre-existing minhagim. Thus, Rav Lebhar concludes that since the custom to recite Nacheim precedes the composition of the Shulchan Aruch, Rav Karo would agree that in such a case his ruling in the Shulchan Aruch should not be followed.

Conclusion

Accordingly, North African Jews maintain their ancient custom to recite Nacheim only at Mincha, while most Sephardic Jews adhere to the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch and minhag Yerushalayim to say Nacheim at all tefillot of Tisha B’Av. At Congregation Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck, we follow the minhag Yerushalayim and minhag of Rav Ovadia to recite Nacheim at each tefillah on Tisha B’Av.

Postscript

One interesting point we should add is that Rav Lebhar notes that the Avudraham records the practice of Rav Sa’adia Gaon to recite Nacheim only at Mincha. This would demonstrate that the dispute of when to recite Nacheim is quite an ancient one. However, Rav Ovadia Yosef challenges this point, noting that in the extant editions of the siddur of Rav Saadia Gaon (page 319) it appears that he does not limit the recital of Nacheim to Mincha. According to Rav Ovadia, the unchallenged view of the Geonim is to recite Nacheim at each of the tefillot of Tisha B’Av.

By Rabbi Haim Jachter


Rabbi Haim Jachter is the spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck. He also serves as a rebbe at Torah Academy of Bergen County and a dayan on the Beth Din of Elizabeth.

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