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Tefilas Tal (and Geshem) were composed by Rabbi Eleazar Ha-Kallir who lived around 570 – 640 CE.

How did the synagogue service mark the change from winter to summer and vice versa before he composed these prayers?

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    I think that there are other parts of Tefillat Tal not attributed to Rav Elazar. There aren't too many congregations that say those, now. Chances are that before him, there was no "formality" and they just switched to saying "Morid Hatal" or omitting "Morid Hageshem", and that was all. – DanF Apr 3 '18 at 13:53
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The recitation of Tefillat Tal and Geshem are not dependent on Rav Hakalir, of course. While it is true that the majority of the piyut that's there was composed by him, there are still many minhagim that don't say either of these paryers.

This article focuses on Geshem (rain), but I would assume that the same principles could be applied to Tal.

Some highlights from the article:

  • O.C. 114:2 says that individuals should not begin saying Morid Hageshem until the gabbai or shat"z specifically announces this in the congregation. It further clarifies that someone who is ill and prays alone, should, therefore, not recite it in is silent amidah because it has not yet been announced publicly in a congregation. (It seems that such a person would have to wait until Mincha.) Note that O.C. makes no mention of Tefilat Geshem as this is a supplemental piyut.

  • The article states that Geshem (and I assume Tal) is not mentioned in many ancient siddurim and is not in some more "popular" ones such as Avodat Yisrael, Hertz, Hirsch or Otzar Hatefillot.

  • Sefer Haminhagim (c. 1300) is one of the first sources that mentions reciting Geshem

  • Sefer Shibolei Haleket from about the same era says that the shat"z just announces Mashiv Haruach prior to Musaph in a fashion similar to the announcement of the day of Rosh Hodesh. Another custom he mentions is that the congregation doesn't say it in their silent amidah and in the repetition, the chazan just says it (I infer as part of the 2nd bracha Mechalkel Chaim) followed by Livracha Velo Likelala, etc.

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    The reason why we don't find these tefillot in most of the siddurim mentioned has nothing to do with lack of recitation, rather they assume that one owns a machzor (or two) for each holiday and doesn't print piyutim for them as a result. – Noach MiFrankfurt Apr 3 '18 at 15:56
  • So tachlis, what did they do before the Piyutim were used to mark it in some way? Nothing and wait until mincha? Or just announce it? – רבות מחשבות Apr 3 '18 at 16:16
  • @רבותמחשבות If I'm inferring correctly from O.C., the shat"z announced it. It's a question of when someone announced it that made a difference as to what the congregation did. But, it seems clear that individuals can't make any changes until a congregational announcement was made. My understanding, in Nusach Ashkenaz, when they stop saying Morid Hageshem, the shamash is not allowed to announce not to do something. Therefore, morid hageshem is said in the silent Amida on Musaph 1st day Pesach. – DanF Apr 3 '18 at 16:46
  • That was my assumption as well (although if so, Tefillas Tal/Geshem did not exist, just a change in Nusach without a Tefillah). Thanks. – רבות מחשבות Apr 3 '18 at 16:49
  • @רבותמחשבות read the linked article. That's exactly what it implies. – DanF Apr 3 '18 at 16:54

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