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The Mishnah Berakhot 4:3 introduces the abridged Amida, known as Havineinu (due to its' opening word). The Gemara Berakhot 29a provides the text of this abridged Amida, in the name of Shmuel.

Within that discussion, Rav Bibi bar Abbayei says that Havineinu may not be said throughout the entire rainy season, during which we require the insertion of ותן טל ומטר. The Gemara concludes that the main issue in doing so would be the potential confusion it would cause to people who are used to leaving out that phrase from Havineinu during the rest of the year.

Does this imply that if one had the text in front of them, and there were no grounds for confusion, then saying Havineinu with ותן טל ומטר wouldn't be a problem? Is this discussed in any post-Talmudic texts?

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    Yes a number of Acharonim rule that if you have a Siddur it's fine. The same comes up by Birkat Kohanim where the Chazzan can only answer Amen if he has a Siddur. – Double AA Feb 23 '18 at 15:16
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This sort of goes into a meta-halakhic question of when the circumstances behind a statement in the Gemara change, whether the halakhah changes, or whether we assume that the rabbis in the Gemara were reacting to their circumstances but setting rules that are independent of them. There are cases where the halakhah definitely changes (like assuming fires on Shabbat are only threats to property and not life), there are cases where the halakhah definitely doesn't change (like medicine on Shabbat, really most gezeirot), and there are some that get debated on occasion (like mayim achronim). There are unsettled issues in this area. But usually the initial assumption is that the Rabbis used their assumptions in setting up davening, and now that they have, the liturgy they instituted is relatively fixed even if what they had in mind has changed.

This is discussed in later halakhic texts. The Shulchan Arukh, OC 110, rules that one does not say Havineinu in the wintertime. As does the Rambam (MT Hilkhot Tefillah 2:4). Some of the commentaries on Shulchan Arukh do not mention any difference davening from siddurim (Mishnah Brurah, Taz). The Kaf HaChaim there notes that if one erred and did havineinu during the rainy season, one still fulfilled their obligation. The Magen Avraham there says something about one who is sure they won't err, which might apply to this situation, but I can't quite parse what he's saying.

edit: However the Koren siddur notes permit saying havineinu in wintertime. But I'm not really sure a siddur would prevent getting mixed up. I don't think most people read the siddur so slowly that they'd get up to ten tal umatar and think about whether it's winter or not. People get confused and say/don't say the correct one with siddurim even without the havineinu confusion.

The Chayei Adam rules similarly (Klal 24, part 30) that one can say Havineinu in a pressing situation, but not in wintertime.

  • The whole point of resorting to the Havineinu is an attempt at having a prayer short enough to successfully focus on for its entirety. And we're talking about a full six months here - what's so difficult about remembering to insert three extra words, if someone was saying Havineinu every day? – Chaim Feb 23 '18 at 21:44

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