Is Ma'ariv Really Optional?
In the beginning of this week's parshah the Torah writes about Yakkov Avinu's departure from his father's house in Bear Sheva. The passuk says "Vayifga bamakom" and he met the place. This passuk carries many deeper levels of understanding aside from the pashut pshat. Rashi explains that the "place" that the passuk is referring to is Har Hamoria. The Gemara in Chullin 91b explains that Hashem lifted the mountain and brought it to Yakkov, hence the wording "and he met the place". The Gemara in Brachos 26b explains that the word "vayifga" means to daven, and that it was at this point that Yakkov Avinu instituted the tiffela of ma'ariv.
The Gemara in Brachos 27b says that although all of the tiffelos are mandatory, the tiffela of ma'ariv is a rishus (voluntary). Tosafos (Brachos 26a) points out that one may not decide not to daven ma'ariv unless there is an adequate reason i.e. another time sensitive mitzvah.
The Gemara in Brachos 21a discusses the halacha in a scenario where one is in middle of davening shimoneh esray and realizes that he had already davened this tiffela. The Gemara says that he should stop davening immediately, even if he is in the middle of a bracha. Even though one may daven a tiffelas nidavah (a voluntary tiffela) whenever he desires, he must stop in the middle since he initially began davening under the impression that the tiffela was obligatory. The Tosafos Harash explains that just as there are not any korbanos that are part obligatory and part voluntary so too there cannot be a tiffela that is part obligatory and part voluntary.
Based on this, the Rambam (hilchos tiffela 10:6) wrote a tremendous chiddish. He wrote that the abovementioned Gemara that discusses the halacha of when one realizes in the middle of shimoneh esray that he has davened that tiffela, should not apply when the tiffela that one is in the middle of is ma'ariv. The reason for this ruling is since the tiffela of ma'ariv is voluntary it can connect to a tiffelas nidavah. Therefore if one was in the middle of davening ma'ariv and realized that he had already davened ma'ariv if he desires he may continue davening as a nidavah. Since both tiffelos are voluntary they should be able to connect as one voluntary tiffela.
The Ra'avad disagreed with this psak and, as explained by the Kesef Mishnah, argued that for many generations Klal Yisroel have accepted upon themselves an obligation to daven ma'ariv. Even the Rambam himself writes (hilchos tiffela 1:6) that all of Yisroel wherever they are have accepted to daven ma'ariv involuntarily. So how can the Rambam say that the tiffela of ma'ariv can connect with a tiffelas nidavah since they are both voluntary?
Reb Chaim Solovatchik zt'l in his sefer on the Rambam suggests the following approach to understand the ruling of the Rambam: although Klal Yisroel have accepted upon themselves to daven ma'ariv involuntarily, nevertheless the type of tiffela remains the same. Since the tiffela of ma'ariv was instituted as a voluntary tiffela it remains that type of tiffela in its essence. In other words, one can have an obligation to daven a voluntary type of tiffela. The obligation to daven a particular tiffela does not affect the type of tiffela that it is in its essence. Therefore the tiffela of ma'ariv can connect with a tiffelas nidavah since they are both voluntary tiffelos in essence.
On the other hand, the Ra'avad believes that whether one is obligated to daven a certain tiffela will affect the type of tiffela that it is. Therefore since we have accepted upon ourselves to daven ma'ariv involuntarily the tiffela becomes an obligatory tiffela and can no longer connect to a tiffelas nidavah.
The Rambam (hilchos tiffela 1:10) writes that there are some Ge'onim who were of the opinion that one may not daven a tiffelas nidavah on Shabbos since we do not bring a korban nidavah on Shabbos. The implication from the Rambam is that he agrees with this view. This however raises a problem, how can one daven ma'ariv on Shabbos if according to the Rambam himself it is a voluntary tiffela in essence?
I want to suggest that although ma'ariv is a voluntary tiffela in its essence, it differs from a nidavah. The similarity that ma'ariv shares with a tiffelas nidavah is that they are both voluntary, and therefore they can be connected. However the Gemara in Brachos 26b says that all of the tiffelos correspond to different korbanos; shachris corresponds to the tamid shel shachar, mincha to the tamid shel bain ha'arbaim, and ma'ariv corresponds to the aimurim of the korbanos (which even if they are not brought the korban is effective- it is for this reason that ma'ariv is a rishus). Therefore even though ma'ariv is voluntary, it corresponds to the aimurim which are brought even on Shabbos. A korban nidavah however is not brought on Shabbos, and therefore one cannot daven a tiffelas nidavah on Shabbos.
Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 12/01/2011 08:32:00 PM