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To Pray as a Jew mentions that there is a condensed form of the Shemoneh Esrei which can sometimes be used in place of the full version. The condensed form was different than the Shabbat version of the prayer. So when would it be appropriate to use the condensed form?

And if anyone knows, did the condensed form originate from halakhah or minhag?

  • psdsph, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for bringing your question here! The prayer you're referring to is called Havineinu. Here's a related question about it: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/45706/2 . I hope you get good answers to this question, and that you also look around and find other information of interest, perhaps starting with our 200+ other shemona-esrei questions. – Isaac Moses Jan 28 '15 at 14:31
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The prayer you're referring to is called Havinenu.

The Rambam in Hilchot Tefilla 2:2 states that one who is rushed, or unable to concentrate, should say Havinenu. First he says the ordinary first 3, then Havinenu instead of the middle 13, and then the last 3. He thus fulfills his obligation.

In halacha #4 there, he clarifies that this does not apply during the winter, because he needs to ask for rain; or after Shabbat/Yom Tov, because there is havdalah.

I'm not entirely sure of the origins of the condensed form, but my guess is that the Sages said "better that people should say a short version than not be able to pray at all", because many people weren't able to remember the whole Shmoneh Esrei (this was before siddurim).

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    I don't know the reasoning, but a very respected Posek told me I can say havineinu during the winter too if I cannot focus on the whole prayer or I don't have time to say the whole thing. The Jerusalem Talmud Brachot Chapter 4 Law 3 brings this statementאמר ר' חגי אם היו גשמים אומרים גשמי ברכה אם היו טללים אומרים בטללי ברכה, for what to add during the rainy season. I think he ruled this way because the only option was either not saying the prayer at all or not saying it with proper kavana. The Talmud Bavli which forbids this may only be speaking about doing this in general, but not in my case. – Emet v'Shalom Jan 28 '15 at 17:24
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The origin of the "condensed form" is a comment by Shmuel in Brochos 29a

ושמואל אמר הביננו ה' אלהינו לדעת דרכיך ומול את לבבנו ליראתך ותסלח לנו להיות גאולים ורחקנו ממכאובינו ודשננו בנאות ארצך ונפוצותינו מארבע תקבץ והתועים על דעתך ישפטו ועל הרשעים תניף ידיך וישמחו צדיקים בבנין עירך ובתקון היכלך ובצמיחת קרן לדוד עבדך ובעריכת נר לבן ישי משיחך טרם נקרא אתה תענה ברוך אתה ה' שומע תפלה

I think you might characterise a comment by an Amora in the gemoro as more halachah than minhag.

  • The Rosh on that Gemarah, the Tur (O.C. 110), Rambam (Tefilla 2:2), and the Yerushalmi Brachot 4:3 bring slightly variant texts. – Emet v'Shalom Jan 28 '15 at 19:42

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