Reciting Anenu in Arbit Before a Fast Day

The Gemara in Masekhet Shabbat (24a) quotes a Tosefta: Yamim She-En Bahen Qorban Musaf K’gon Sheni VaHamishi V’Sheni Shel (V’)Ta’aniyot V’Ma’amadot, ‘Arbit Shahrit UMinhah Mitpallel Sh’monah ‘Esreh V’Omer Me’En HaM’ora’ B’Shomea’ T’filah, V’Im Lo Amar En Mahzirim Oto. (On days when there is no Additional Offering like Monday, Thursday and Monday of (and) Fast Days, and Ma’amadot, in ‘Arbit Shahrit and Minhah you recite the ‘Amidah and add a paragraph for the day in Shomea’ T’filah, and if you didn’t say it [the paragraph for the day] you do not repeat it [the ‘Amidah]).

Rashi explained that they would institute fasts on Mondays and Thursdays when rain was needed. Regarding mentioning the fast in ‘Arbit Rashi commented: the nights that the fasts began, and even though you eat and drink all night, you mention the fast in ‘Arbit, since the day began, like Rab Huna stated in Masekhet Ta’anit (11b) An individual who accepted a fast upon himself, even though he eats and drinks all night, he prays the prayer for the fast day (‘Anenu).

And then he quoted the Geonim who cited a Baraita that taught: sometimes one is fasting and he doesn’t pray (mention the fast), and sometimes one is not fasting and he does pray (mention the fast). How is that? One case is when the fast comes in and one is when the fast ends. Meaning, when the fast comes in, even though he is still going to eat after the prayer (‘Arbit), he recites the prayer for the fast (‘Anenu). And the next night, even though he is still fasting when he prays ‘Arbit he does not recite the prayer for the fast (‘Anenu). Rashi concludes with the end of the words of the Geonim who wrote that their custom was only to recite ‘Anenu in Minhah since sometimes a person becomes ill on a fast day and is not able to complete the fast. Therefore they did not want to say ‘Anenu in ‘Arbit and Shahrit since they might not actually complete the fast.

Furthermore, the Ri”F (based on a passage in the Talmud Yerushalmi) ruled that when one fasts he recites ‘Anenu in ‘Arbit, Shahrit, and Minhah. This was also HaRambam’s ruling in a responsa (81- Freimann Edition Jerusalem 1934, 313-Blau, 76-P’er HaDor). And the Ro”SH (Shabbat 2:15, Ta’anit 1:10) also ruled that ‘Anenu is recited in ‘Arbit before a fast day. Other authorities supporting this practice are Rab ‘Amram Gaon (pg 25a in his Siddur) and Rab Sa’adyah Gaon (pg 317 in his Siddur), Rabenu Hananel (Shabbat 24a), Ramban (Milhamot HaShem Ta’anit 12a), RaSH”BA in a responsa (1:357), RiT”BA in a responsa (62) and in his commentary to Shabbat 24a and to Ta’anit 12b, and the Tur (OH 565) following his father (the Ro”SH).

However, Rabenu Z’rahyah HaLevy (12th century Spain/Southern France) explained that reciting ‘Anenu in ‘Arbit only applied to fasts that begin at sunset, not to fasts that begin at dawn (HaMaor on Ta’anit 12a). And the RaSH”BA wrote (Responsa 142) that the custom in his times was only to recite ‘Anenu in Shahrit and Minhah (even though the RaSH”BA’s own opinion was to recite ‘Anenu in ‘Arbit as well).

So there are three opinions. According to the RiF, the RoSH and HaRambam (and some of the Geonim and some of the other Rishonim)’Anenu is recited in all of the prayers, including ‘Arbit. According to other Geonim ‘Anenu is only recited in Minhah. And according to other Rishonim ‘Anenu is recited in Shahrit and Minhah.

In Shulhan ‘Arukh (565:3) Maran wrote that some say that an individual only recites ‘Anenu in Minhah because he might become ill (and not be able to complete the fast) and then he will be lying in his prayer (by describing himself as fasting), but the Hazzan also recites it in Shahrit in the Hazarah since it’s not possible that no one in the congregation is fasting. And on the Four Fasts an individual also says it (‘Anenu) in all of his prayers (‘Amidot), because even if he becomes ill and eats, he could still say “Answer us on this Fast Day” since our Rabbis instituted a fast on these days. Based on this, the later authorities [Maamar Mordekhai 565:7, G’RA (565:3)] understood that Maran ruled like the Ri”F, the Ro”SH and HaRambam to recite ‘Anenu in ‘Arbit before the Four Fasts (Som G’dalyah,’Asarah B’Tebet, 17th of Tamuz and the 9th of Ab),

However, not all middle-eastern communities followed Maran with regards to adding ‘Anenu in ‘Arbit. The HID”A wrote that their custom was to only add ‘Anenu in Minhah (Birke’Yosef 565:1). According to R Haim Benveniste (K’nesset HaG’dolah 565 Hagahot Bet Yosef) the custom in Constantinople (17th century) was to add ‘Anenu in Shahrit and Minhah (not in ‘Arbit). Similarly, the Shulhan Gaboha (18th century Salonica, Greece) wrote (565:2) that their custom was to add ‘Anenu only in Shahrit and Minhah in accordance with the opinion of Rabenu Zerahyah HaLevy. R Elisha’ Dangour (19th century Baghdad) also recorded their custom of adding ‘Anenu only in Shahrit and Minhah in his G’dulot Elisha’(557:1). And this is also the custom according to the Kaf HaHayyim Sofer (565:17) and H ‘Obadyah Yosef (Hazon ‘Obadyah-Arba’ Ta’aniyot pgs 71-74).

What was the custom in Halab? R Hayyim ‘Attiyeh (Aleppo 1751-1795) in his book Arshot HaHayyim (volume 2 pg. 481-Sephardic Heritage Museum Publication) wrote: “Know that we have the custom here in Aram Soba to say ‘Anenu in all of the prayers and even in ‘Arbit of the night that the fast comes in for the Four Fasts like it says here (Shabbat 24a) and since I see many criticizing this custom I am going to expound on and validate and maintain our custom that is founded upon the ancients and upon the law of our Talmud”.

And that is what is found in Mahzor Aram Soba (printed in 1527). The instructions for the 17th of Tamuz (vol 1 295b), Som G’dalyah (vol 2 515a) and ‘Asarah B’Tebet (vol 2 685a) all specify adding ‘Anenu in ‘Arbit on the night before the fast. Reciting ‘Anenu in ‘Arbit was not only the original custom of Halab, it was also the custom in Yemen (Siddur ‘Ess Hayyim 199a), and in Tunisia (Zikhre’ K’hunah 70:6) and Djerba (Ge-ule’ Kehunah 70:8). And it was also the custom in Morrocco (R Yosef Messas-Ossar HaMikhtabim vol. 2 1:38) and Libya (Nahalat Abot-Minhag-e’ Arba’ Ta’aniyot 20) Also R Haim Benveniste reported it as the custom in Izmir (Shiyyere’ K’nesset HaG’dolah 565:6).

Reciting ‘Anenu in ‘Arbit before a fast day is the opinion of Maran based on the majority of earlier authorities including the RI”F the Ro”SH and HaRambam. The custom in some middle-eastern communities was to recite ‘Anenu in Minhah, or in Shahrit and Minhah. But the original custom of Halab and other middle-eastern communities was to recite ‘Anenu ‘Arbit, Shahrit and Minhah in accordance with Maran, HaRambam and the majority of the Posqim.

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Mr. Morris Arking teaches Halachot and classes in the community for the past 15 years, including a daily Halachah class in Bnei Yosef in Brooklyn, NY.