Halacha for Sunday 13 Sivan 5779 June 16 2019

One Who Begins the Amida Prayer and Then Remembers That He Has Already Prayed

Question: What is the appropriate procedure for one has begun to recite the Amida prayer and then suddenly remembers that he has already prayed that specific prayer?

Answer: We have already explained that one may pray a voluntary prayer which one is not obligated to as a voluntary prayer and is tantamount to a donated sacrifice. Nevertheless, we have mentioned the opinion of the Poskim who rule that one should not pray a donated prayer nowadays when concentrating during prayer is quite difficult.

Now, let us discuss our scenario regarding an individual who has begun the Amida prayer and then remembers in the middle of praying that he has already prayed this specific prayer. Indeed, this is a common occurrence by an individual who has a set time to pray Mincha daily, such as at 7:00 PM, and one day this individual happened to be in a place where there was a Minyan praying Mincha at 2:00 PM so he prayed with them. The individual later continues his daily routine which includes going to pray Mincha at 7:00. After beginning to pray, the individual suddenly remembers that he has already prayed. How should the individual proceed? If he continues to pray, he will continue to recite blessings in vain. If he stops praying, this will mean that all the blessings that he has already recited will have been blessings in vain!

The Gemara (Berachot 21a) deals with this situation and states, “Rav Yehuda said in the name of Shmuel: If one was standing in prayer and remembers that he has already prayed, one must stop even in the middle of the blessing.” This means that if one remembers in the middle of the Amida prayer, such as in the middle of the “Refa’enu” blessing, that one has already prayed, one must stop praying immediately, for every blessing one has recited until this point was in error (and one must recite “Baruch Shem Kevod Malchuto Le’Olam Va’ed”). One may not even conclude the blessing one is in the middle of, such as the “Refa’enu” blessing, for the conclusion of the blessing ‘Baruch Ata Hashem Rofeh Cholei Amo Yisrael” is the text of a blessing which includes Hashem’s name in it and it may not be recited in vain.

The apparent question is: We have already explained that according to the letter of the law, one may pray a voluntary/donated prayer, i.e. a prayer of which all blessings are non-obligatory. If so, in our case when one remembers in the middle of praying that one has already prayed this prayer, why not allow the individual to continue at the very least as a donated prayer so that not all of the blessings that he has already recited are considered blessings in vain?

Indeed, the Rishonim disagree regarding this very point, for the Rashba and Ra’avad write that one may, in fact, continue one’s prayer as a voluntary/donated prayer. On the other hand, most of the Geonim and Rishonim disagree and maintain that one must immediately stop praying, for since one has begun this prayer as an obligatory prayer (in error nonetheless), one cannot switch over in the middle of the prayer to make it a donated prayer because prayer is in the place of offerings and we find no such offering that is part obligatory and part voluntary (Tosafot Ha’Rosh quoting Geonim).

Halachically speaking, there is no such thing as a partially voluntary prayer meaning that if one began reciting the Amida prayer because he was under the assumption that it was obligatory, one may no longer continue this prayer as a voluntary/donated prayer based on the ruling of the majority of the Poskim (see Yalkut Yosef, Tefillah, Volume 1, page 202 and on).

Summary: One who has begun reciting the Amida prayer and then realizes that he has already prayed that specific prayer must stop praying immediately, even in the middle of a blessing.

In the next Halacha we shall, G-d-willing, discuss the parameters of this Halacha as it applies to the Arvit prayer.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

One Who Begins the Amida Prayer and Then Remembers That He Has Already Prayed

Question: What is the appropriate procedure for one has begun to recite the Amida prayer and then suddenly remembers that he has already prayed that specific prayer? Answer: We have already explained that one may pray a voluntary prayer which one is not obligated to as a voluntary prayer and is t......

Read Halacha

Praying Arvit on a Voluntary Basis

We have mentioned in the previous Halacha that if one was in the midst of reciting the Amida prayer and then suddenly remembers that he has already prayed this prayer, one must stop praying immediately, for all of one’s blessings are considered blessings in vain. One may not intend for the rem......

Read Halacha

The Holiday of Shavuot

Regarding the giving of the Torah, the Torah states (Shemot 19): “And they travelled from Refidim and they arrived at the Sinai Desert and they camped in the desert; and Israel camped there opposite the mountain.” Rabbeinu Chaim ben Atar, the saintly “Or Ha’Chaim,” ......

Read Halacha

Laws of the Compensatory Prayer-Continued

In the previous Halachot we have explained that if one forgets to pray a certain prayer, the individual must compensate for the missed prayer by reciting the Amida of the next prayer twice, once for the current obligatory prayer and the second as a compensatory prayer for the prayer one missed. T......

Read Halacha


Some Laws Regarding the Compensatory Prayer and the Laws of Women Regarding the Compensatory Prayer

In the Halachot sent out before Shavuot, we have discussed the general laws of the compensatory prayer which is that if one forgets to pray a certain prayer, one must compensate for this prayer immediately at the end of the following prayer one prays. For instance, if one has forgotten to pray Shach......

Read Halacha

Blessings of Enjoyment and Keri’at Shema on the Night of Shavuot

In the previous Halacha, we have discussed the order of learning for the night of Shavuot during which it is customary to remain awake all night and study Torah. Reading the Order of the “Keri’eh Mo’ed” Let us first discuss that which we have mentioned that it is proper t......

Read Halacha

The Customary Order of the Night of Shavuot

The Source for the Order of the Night of Shavuot The widespread custom among the entire Jewish nation is to stay awake the entire night of Shavuot and immerse one’s self in Torah study until dawn. Indeed, the holy Zohar states: “The earlier righteous individuals would not sleep on this ......

Read Halacha

Sweet Pastries and Dairy Chocolate

In the previous Halachot, we have explained that our Sages prohibited baking bread with milk (or animal fat) mixed in the dough lest others come and eat this bread with meat (or dairy). We have mentioned that if the bread or baked good is baked in a distinct shape which everyone recognizes to be ......

Read Halacha