Getting a Word In
Some sefarim relate a story involving a meeting between the Nefesh Chayah, R. Yehoshua of Kutno, and the Avnei Nezer, in which the Nefesh Chayah quoted a ruling in the name of the Ba’al Shem Tov. This ruling, based on a comment of Tosafot, was that if one began to pray before the latest time for davening, the prayer is acceptable, even if the prayer continues after the time has passed. R. Yehoshua of Kutno responded that he had heard this as well, but did not know where the Tosafot was. The Avnei Nezer thought for a moment, and then replied that he knew where it was: Berakhot 7a.
That Tosafot (s.v. Sh’ilmalei) comments on the gemara’s statement that Bilaam was able to discern G-d’s very brief moment of anger and use that opportunity to curse the Jews. If , however, the moment was so brief, how much could he have said in that time? The Tosafot offer two answers, the second being that if he started his curse at that moment, it would not have mattered had the remaining words taken beyond that time to complete. Thus, explained the Avnei Nezer, since Chazal tell us that the “measurement of good is greater than the measurement of disaster”, if a curse is effective under such circumstance, prayer certainly is. [The Kogaglover Rav (Resp. Eretz Zvi, I, 121, and II, p. 171), who was a student of the Avnei Nezer, quotes this idea as well, but attributes it not to him but to the Yid haKodesh of Psischa, and uses it to consider the question of Purim meals that start on Purim but continue into the next day. Resp. Dovev Meisharim, III, 11, also alludes to this point in the Purim Seudah context.]
The Responsa Minchat Yitzchak (IV, 48) questioned the veracity of this story, noting that its conclusion is contradicted by the poskim (See Shulchan Arukh O.C. 124:2, Magen Avraham, 4; and 232:2, Magen Avraham, 2, and 89:4 ). However, after considering some possible support for this idea in other contexts, he concludes that the logic is effective in allowing a prayer to be considered with the community, as long as it began with the community.
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