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Excerpted and adapted from a shiur by Dayan Yehoshua Grunwald
November 26, 2020
And he encountered (vayifga) the place and stayed there overnight because the sun had set . . .
According to the Gemara (Brachos 26b), the word vayifga (from the root pegi’ah) refers to tefilah, from which the Gemara derives that Yaakov established the practice of davening Ma’ariv. The Gemara also says (Brachos 27b) that Ma’ariv is optional, though Klal Yisrael accepted it as obligatory.
Tosafos (Brachos 4b) asks that given the inherent reshus status of Ma’ariv, why does the Gemara also say (Brachos 9a) that the bracha of Ga’al Yisrael about the Redemption from Egypt must be adjacent to Shmoneh Esrei? How can this be required if the entire Ma’ariv is optional? Tosafos answers that although Ma’ariv is not an absolute obligation, if one does recite it, smichas ge’ulah lisfilah is required.
This idea may also explain the approach of the Magein Avraham, who holds (106) that women are not obligated to recite Shmoneh Esrei, yet he also holds (70) that women are obligated in smichas ge’ulah lisfilah. The Machatzis Hashekel explains that although women may make a short request to fulfill their daily obligation of tefilah, if they choose to recite Shmoneh Esrei, they must also be someich ge’ulah lisfilah.
May one announce immediately before the Ma’ariv Shmoneh Esrei to insert an addendum (e.g., Ya’aleh v’yavo), or is that considered a hefsek (interruption) between ge’ulah and tefilah? The Rashba, quoted by the Shulchan Aruch, rules that it is not considered a hefsek because it is for the purpose of the Shmoneh Esrei; additionally, Ma’ariv is a reshus, so the requirement for semichas ge’ulah lisfilah is more lenient than for Shacharis. However, the Kaf Hachaim and Shulchan Aruch HaRav (in his Siddur) note that the custom is not to announce this.