Is it Possible to Make up a Missed Opportunity?
Taste of Talmud
An Ammorah, (a great rabbi from the time period of the Talmud 400-800 C.E.) said, “One who erred and did not pray the afternoon prayers may make it up by praying the evening prayers (Shemoneh esrei) twice.” The Talmud asks: This seems to go against a statement made previously by a Tanna (a great Rabbi from the time period of the Mishnah 50 B.C.E. – 400 C.E.): One who has missed a prayer cannot make it up. The Talmud answers that it is clear from the choice of words which was used in his statement that the Ammorah is not contradicting the words of the earlier sages. The Ammorah stated that a makeup prayer may be said if the prayer was missed “erroneously”, i.e. unintentionally. He did not make a blanket statement that prayers can always be made up. The Talmud adds two more rules that limit the use of a make-up prayer. 1) It may only be said in conjunction with the prayer immediately following the missed prayer. 2) The make-up prayer must be said after the obligatory prayer of that time period has been said. For example, if one missed Mincha on a Shabbos afternoon (due to an unintentionally long Shabbos nap!) he may make it up after Maariv on Motzai Shabbos. In this event, he must recite the Havdalah insertion in the first shemoneh esrei for his regular Maariv prayer and only then may he recite another shemoneh esrei (without the Motzai Shabbos insertion).
Taste of Halacha
What is the benefit in reciting a make-up prayer after Shabbos to make up for a missed Shabbos Mincha prayer? One would think that since it is no longer Shabbos and one cannot pray the Shabbos prayer that there would be no point in saying an additional weekday prayer. This, however, is not true. Tosafos explains that one should say a second weekday shemoneh esrei to make up for a missed Shabbos prayer. This is different than a situation where one realizes that he neglected to recite the Rosh Chodesh insertion during his afternoon prayers the following evening. There is no point for him to repeat a regular prayer since it is no longer Rosh Chodesh and he will not be making that insertion. In this case he did not miss a prayer. Rather, he missed a “special occasion” insertion, in contrast to a person who did not say any prayer at all for Mincha on Shabbos. Rabbi Chaim Brisker makes another distinction between a person who neglected to say the insertion of Yaaleh V’Yavoh on Rosh Chodesh and one who neglected to say the correct formula to ask for rain in the 9th blessing of the Shemoneh Esrei. In the event that one did not say the correct formula to request rain, it is as though he did not pray at all since that is an integral part of the 9th blessing. In contrast, the mentioning of Rosh Chodesh in Yaaleh V’yavoh is a separate obligation. Therefore, if one realized that he did not make the request for rain on a Friday afternoon, he should repeat the Shabbos evening prayer twice because it is like he did not pray at all on Friday afternoon.
Taste of Parasha
In the town of Lomza there was a very old hospital built out of thick wood. Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian writes that it was so old that no one could remember the exact year it was built. The people of the town were very distressed when they noticed a number of cases where people entered the hospital due to one ailment and shortly thereafter died of an ailment which they did not have before. They began to realize that rather than helping to cure their sick, this old hospital was actually the cause of death for a number of patients. They called in a number of professors from Warsaw to make some recommendations. After analyzing the situation for a while, the professors told the town of Lomza that over the years a lot of bacteria had built up in the building and was growing in the walls of their hospital. These bacteria were causing the death of their patients. There was no other choice but to destroy the entire building. Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian explains that there is a corollary to this in the spiritual world as well. Even if you have a very righteous person such as Noach, if the whole world around him has fallen to a deplorable level, their spiritual bacteria had attached itself to the wood and stones of the world around him and anyone living in such a world was in danger of dying spiritually from these “bacteria.” It was therefore necessary to cleanse the world in much the same way as we clean non- kosher pots – with boiling water!