Insights into Halacha

For the week ending 18 December 2021 / 14 Tevet 5782

5782 - The Rarities Continue ...

by Rabbi Yehuda Spitz
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Throughout the past year we detailed many fascinating and unique calendarical occurrences that transpired over the previous year, 5781. Although 5782 does not hold a candle to 5781 in terms of remarkable and rare calendarical occurrences, it nonetheless does sport a few, and interestingly enough – and unbeknownst to many - two occurred in the same 24 hour period – just recently on Shabbos Parashas Mikeitz and another on its Motzai Shabbos.

Silver Medal for Rarest Tefilla

On this recent Shabbos, which was Rosh Chodesh Teves and Chanuka as well, as 5782 is also a leap year (with two Adars coming up), at Mussaf we added the words “U’lchaparas Pasha.” Having the rare synchronization of Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Chanuka on a leap year, occurs at just under ten percent of the time, thus making this specific Tefillas Mussaf - with the additions of Attah Yatzarta with “U’lchaparas Pasha,” as well as Al HaNissim - the second rarest Tefilla recited, and the rarest possible Tefilla in Eretz Yisrael.[i]

Once in 95 Years!

If that is the second rarest, then what is the rarest?

According to Rav Dovid Heber in his recent seferThe Intriguing World of Jewish Time,”[ii] the rarest Shemoneh Esrei is recited when Motzai Shabbos Chanuka is also Rosh Chodesh Teves while V’sein Bracha is still being said (in Chutz La’aretz). In this Shemoneh Esrei, we say Attah Chonantanu, V’sein Bracha, Yaaleh V’Yavo, and Al Hanissim. This can only occur with the rare combination of Rosh Chodesh Teves on a Motzai Shabbos in an extremely “early” year.

Rav Heber adds that the first time this specific Shemoneh Esrei was recited was in 5413/1652! The last two times it was recited was in 5660/1899 and 5755/1994, and it is next scheduled to be recited in 5850/2089. This means that this specific rare Shemoneh Esrei can only be recited once every ninety-five years (!) thus making it the rarest Tefilla by far.

However, as noted previously, this can only occur in Chutz La’aretz, where V’sein Bracha switches over to V’Sein Tal U’Mattar L’Vracha on December 4th (or 5th when the following February has twenty-nine days). Yet, in Eretz Yisrael, this switch is always made far earlier - on the 7th of Marcheshvan – thus making this specific Shemoneh Esrei an impossibility in Israel, and leaving the second rarest Shemoneh Esrei, the Mussaf on Shabbos Chanuka - Rosh Chodesh Teves in a leap year, the rarest Israeli Tefilla possible.[iii]

Marathon Maariv

As for the second rare calendar event – that is referring to the longest “regular” Shemoneh Esrei. Quite remarkably, this occurred that very night, on Motzai Shabbos Parashas Mikeitz. As it was still Chanuka and Rosh Chodesh, this Shemoneh Esrei contained the most additions possible, making it the stand-alone longest “regular” Tefilla. This Tefilla contained:

  • Mashiv HaRuach U’Morid HaGashem
  • Attah Chonantanu
  • V’Sein Tal U’Mattar L’Vracha
  • Yaaleh V’Yavo
  • Al Hanissim

What is even more interesting, is that as it was also December 4th, all of Chutz La’aretz switched over to V’Sein Tal U’Mattar L’Vracha on that very night – in that specific Tefilla, the longest “regular” Shemoneh Esrei possible.[iv] Simply fascinating!

Rabbi Spitz’s recent English halacha sefer,

Insights Into Halacha - Food: A Halachic Analysis(Mosaica/Feldheim)

featuring over 500 pages with more than 30 comprehensive chapters discussing the myriad halachic issues relating to food, is now available online and in bookstores everywhere.

[i]Thanks are due to R’ Yosef Yehuda Weber, R’ Phil Chernofsky, and Rav Dovid Heber for confirming this fascinating factoid.

[ii]The Intriguing World of Jewish Time (Ch. 5:1; pg. 85).

[iii]However, as pointed out by R’ Leon Metzger and R’ Yisroel Strauss of Breuer’s / KAJ in Washington Heights, for those who follow Minhag Frankfurt, that the addition of “U’lchaparas Pasha” is exclusively recited on Rosh Chodesh Adar Sheini [see Yosef Ometz (Minhag Frankfurt; 691), Dayan Shlomo Geiger’s Divrei Kehillos (pg. 439 – Minhagei Shnas Ha’ibur), KAJ’s Minhagei Yeshurun (pg. 9; Ch. 3:4 – Rosh Chodesh), Rav Tzvi Cohen’s sefer Purim V’Chodesh Adar (page 29), and Rav Binyomin Hamburger’s Luach Minhagei Beis HaKnesses L’Bnei Ashkenaz (5782; pg. 31)], this recent rare event would not be so rare at all, as “U’lchaparas Pasha” was not recited. Hence, it would be the same Tefilla as other years when Rosh Chodesh Teves falls out on Shabbos. According to Rabbi Strauss, for those shuls that follow Minhag Frankfurt, the second rarest Shemoneh Esrei in Chutz La’aretz would be the Shabbos Mussaf of Rosh Chodesh Adar Sheini / Parashas Shekalim – which is only possible in a leap year. This synchronization occurs only about four times a century. The previous occurrences were 1910, 1927, 1954, 1981, 2005 and 2008; with it next expecting to occur in 2052. For those following Minhag Frankfurt in Eretz Yisrael, this would end up being the actual rarest Tefilla; as was mentioned previously, the absolute rarest Tefilla is an impossibility in Israel. On the other hand, for most of us, Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Mussaf with “U’lchaparas Pasha” occurs pretty frequently, at least once every leap year (7 out of 19 years).

[iv]Thanks are due to R’ Shmuel Neufeld for first pointing this fascinating occurrence out to me.


Rabbi Yehuda Spitz's recent extensive English halacha sefer,
Food: A Halachic Analysis,” (Mosaica/Feldheim)
containing over 500 pages featuring over 30 comprehensive chapters discussing the myriad
halachic issues pertaining to food, is now available online and in bookstores everywhere.

Disclaimer: This is not a comprehensive guide, rather a brief summary to raise awareness of the issues. In any real case one should ask a competent Halachic authority.

L'iluy Nishmas the Rosh HaYeshiva - Rav Chonoh Menachem Mendel ben R' Yechezkel Shraga, Rav Yaakov Yeshaya ben R' Boruch Yehuda.

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